From project workflow to employer expectations, check out these five tips on how to streamline your company’s internal communication.
As more and more workers are vaccinated and companies start preparing a return-to-office plan, hopeful to start implementing by summer, virtual communication among teams is going to be pivotal for a smooth transition.
This pandemic has been anything but predictable, so who’s to say our return to the office is going to be any different? According to an article by the New York Times, many companies plan to implement a hybrid return-to-office plan. Meaning, workers will come to the office, for example, three times a week and then work virtually the other two. With workers no longer being in one place, either online or in the office, this could lend itself to some communication problems.
Pre-pandemic, we were still heavily reliant on technology and virtual communication. Since then, however, we’ve definitely upped our game. It’s going to be important that teams continue to keep up with virtual communication as return-to-office plans start going into effect.
Pitfalls of Poor Communication
I think it’s safe to say that good company communication leads to a more successful business. So, when your communication is lacking, the effects can be felt company-wide. In an article by the Harvard Business Review, it is said that poor communication can prevent innovation and engagement among workers – two highly prized commodities as an employer.
As a result, it’s hard to receive constructive collective feedback or brainstorm that next big campaign idea. This ineffective collaboration can also slow employees down––helping facilitate a negative company culture. The pandemic isn’t all to blame though. According to a pre-COVID survey by Gallup in 2018, 53% of employees said they were “not engaged” in their work. Thirteen percent even said they were “actively disengaged”; up from previous years of the survey, but still leaving a lot of room for improvement.
Here are five ways to steer clear of communication pitfalls:
1. Demonstrate Empathy
As an employer within your company, it’s important to realize that outside stressors can affect a person’s engagement at work. We’ve all been through it, especially in this last year. Letting your employees know that you care and are there to listen tends to make them feel more valued in their roles, increasing productivity.
A good way to reach out to your employees is to take a minute or two before a meeting and build in some casual conversation. Ask them about their day, family, kids, hobbies, etc. Opening up that door to conversation can help you connect with them as people, not just as workers. This can be especially valuable in strengthening relationships between you and your employees virtually when you don’t have the same organic opportunities.
However, as offices start to open back up again, you may get to utilize the elevator run-in or quick cubicle chat from the past depending on your company’s plans.
2. Utilize Communication Platforms
If you’re not already using platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and/or Adobe Connect, you should consider it. These tools offer organization through chat channels and video chat platforms, which allow presentation and document sharing capabilities. Basically, it makes communicational organization easy.
These platforms can also give your team a place to catch up with co-workers by utilizing chat channels or direct messaging in a remote working environment. Set up channels that are strictly for casual chatting or jokes to help employees bond. It’s an easier, less formal alternative to email yet more professional than a text message. Platforms like Slack can also promote collaboration amongst teams, once again increasing productivity and creating an overall more positive and productive company culture as a result. This is especially true as people start to transition to a more hybrid working environment.
3. Consider Employee Feedback
Give employees multiple outlets where they can share their feedback. Oftentimes you can’t see or hear everything, so it’s important to create an environment where your employees feel encouraged to give their thoughts and feedback.
In an article by Bloomfire, they suggest conducting stay interviews to understand why people stay, what is working for them, and what they’d like to improve. Perhaps the information they give you could lead to better employee retention for your company.
Another thing to consider is creating an anonymous feedback form. Let’s be honest, not everyone is going to say what they really think when their boss is right in front of them. It’s important to realize that some feedback is going to be negative, but that’s okay. Recognizing and fixing the problem earlier is always better than later. This will be especially important when companies start their transitions back to the office. Hearing employee feedback on the process and organization will be key in knowing if what you’re doing is effective and keeping them safe.
4. Keep Workflows Transparent
Whether a big project is coming up or you’re working on day-to-day tasks, workflow transparency is super important to mitigate any miscommunications. Does the team know the project deadline? Who is responsible for what parts? When do they need to send it off to the next team member? At one point or another we’ve all been a part of a group or project where nothing seems to be nailed down and no one really knows what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s frustrating, to say the least.
Clearly and concisely communicating expectations and workflows early on will give your employees a more positive working experience. Not to mention they’re more likely to produce better work as a result. To further streamline communication, utilize programs like Trello or Asana to keep track of projects and collaboration. These services send alert updates and make it easier to track progress as projects move forward. With people soon to be both in the office and remote, clear communication regarding projects has the potential to get messy in the coming months.
5. Stay Consistent
Employees need consistency to work productively. If they’re constantly trying to figure out a new workflow or operation, then they aren’t focused on innovation and collaboration. While it’s good to change things up every now and again for the sake of company growth, the way that it’s communicated needs to be consistent every time. Don’t leave them to figure most of it out on their own. Properly train and educate them on the new change.
Also, be consistent in your expectations. Do your employees know what you expect to see from them in their work? Have you been communicating check-ins and deadlines? For an employee, one of the most frustrating things is finding out your employer or supervisor wanted something completely different for a project. Not only is that defeating, but now the project isn’t going to meet its deadline because of inconsistent communication.
As things become a little more transitional in this next half of 2021, keep these tips in mind when thinking about your internal communication. Even if you’re implementing most of these things already, it’s always good to check-in and reevaluate your company culture. Successful communication is at the core of every successful company.