Much has been said about communication, both at the workplace and online. The fact that never changes regardless of the setting is that communication remains the single most important factor in building a healthy working atmosphere.
True, not everyone is cut out to be a leader or indeed an extrovert, but there are numerous ways to keep employees engaged to a degree and thus enhance creativity in the workplace.
Various agile approaches teach us that creative gatherings and workshops help people reach their full potential without compromising their personality. That goes for all personality types if the coaches are inventive. If they aren’t – they’re simply bad coaches!
Efficient Communication Counts
Not just any communication is productive. Small talk, for example, is not only distasteful, but is also inefficient. To nurture a culture of healthy conversation, it is necessary to provide an environment everyone enjoys.
Depending on the company, either leaders, coaches or managers will set the tone of the conversation. In agile environments (that are on the rise), every employee stirs the conversation. The coaches simply direct it towards the desired discussion goals. With traditional business models, senior executives set the tone of communication.
Just where your business stands in terms of healthy communication depends on a plethora of factors, but notwithstanding the differences in approaches, one thing is certain: fruitful communication is attained only if the participants give it their full attention, starting from the executives to each employee.
In plain words, if people are uninterested in the outcome of the conversation, it will not be either successful or productive.
People not paying attention in the meetings are not necessarily uninterested in the topics at hand. More often, they are distracted and, as a rule, the culprit is – a mobile phone.
You know those viral images showing friends and families getting together only to stare at their mobile phones while together? The same logic applies to business environments.
Communication is only successful if all involved parties participate in it, which implies a couple of more things than just providing an input. Maintaining eye contact, being clear in your statements, gesticulating as needed to keep the participants engaged all add up to fruitful communication.
Actively encouraging communication plays a huge role in its success. Try to get involved as many people as you possibly can (without being overbearing) and follow up on the input. It is also recommended to provide notes after the meetings, as it is highly unlikely that every participant will remember every word that was said.
There Are Meetings and Meetings
Not all employees thrive in all kinds of settings, as we mentioned above. Different personalities bloom under different conditions, so it is important to allow for various ways of communication.
For example, some people are not at ease when forced to speak up in front of many people. Does that mean that they should be excluded from the meetings or otherwise penalized?
Certainly not. It is recommended to allow for private meetings, as some employees who are clumsy with socializing just may find it less difficult to communicate clearly one on one.
You may choose a day in the week or month for such meetings and make it a regular practice so that everyone knows exactly how and when to reach out.
Follow Up, Follow Up and Again – Follow Up
The importance of follow-ups is obvious to many, but not necessarily to everyone. In fact, there are people who find them cumbersome in that they might force people to communicate more than they might actually be interested in doing.
While some will get the job done only to get to enjoy their life outside of work, it is important to remember that the ultimate goal of every business should be to make employees happy with their jobs.
Follow-ups are a good way to show people that they are important, both as human beings and members of a team and as a vital part of the chain that makes the business successful.
It is a well-established fact that people who feel that their job matters take pride in their company’s success because they see it as their own success.
Follow-ups, whatever their forms, should be encouraging but also communicate expectations clearly. What is important to note here is that setting too high a goal or too many tasks will only prove counterproductive.
Namely, it is always better to allocate tasks that can be reasonably finished in a day than to assign too many tasks that will only keep the employees distracted and, ultimately, unhappy with their performance.
Setting clear and reasonable tasks will also contribute to better communication, because employees will want to share their successes with their colleagues and, by extension, their superiors. When observed in that way, follow-ups are one of the most efficient ways to keep in touch with people while encouraging them to grow professionally at the same time.
In a Nutshell
All in all, the key to bountiful communication lies in the approach of the higher-ups and in the strategies to inspire productivity and cooperation.
Work can be fun! Team buildings and workshops can be arranged to encourage people to socialize in the ways they like best. Ask for feedback if in doubt! Many companies nowadays send surveys to their employees asking them to vote on the events they would like to attend.
Finally, remember that communication is a two-way road. Don’t expect your employees to open up if you are not ready to reciprocate the feeling. The key is in growing with your team, after all.