By Diamond Richardson
Here at Rise Performance Group, we strongly believe that your employees are your most valuable assets. But that is only if you are taking advantage of all that they have to offer. If you are not effectively communicating with your employees, you are not benefitting from the full scope of knowledge and ideas they have to contribute.
Employee communication is critical to getting maximum contribution from your employees. Poor interpersonal and communication skills are consistently ranked in the top five reasons managers fail. Poor communication skills can manifest themselves in many ways, including:
- Avoiding communication with co-workers
- Hostile attitudes
These are all dangerous, but avoiding communication with co-workers has some of the biggest implications. The best way to make sure you do not fall into this black hole is by creating a culture of open dialogue at your workplace. Employee communication automatically improves when employees sense that communicating new ideas is encouraged by management. Here are easy ways to make sure you are creating a culture of open dialogue in your organization:
1) Create ground rules: Before ideas and opinions start flying, create and enforce ground rules to make sure everyone keeps it friendly. This includes rules about curse words and discriminatory comments. Make sure you emphasize that all comments need to be professional and relevant to the issue at hand. Guidelines prevent employees from getting off task, when they are more likely to make inappropriate comments.
Why this matters: Nothing derails employee communication faster than discriminatory and rude remarks. If an employee is on the receiving end of these remarks, he or she may shut down and refuse to provide valuable opinions, insight and direction. The goal is to make sure everyone feels respected and feels like their opinions matter.
2) Don’t just say there is an open-door policy, create it: It is vital that you walk the walk when it comes to promoting employee communication in the workplace. Begin by setting the example. Make sure you are continually asking for your employees’ opinions on major decisions. It is also important to leave time to regularly meet with your employees.
Why this matters: You can tell your employees that there is an open-door policy, but unless they see it, they will not feel comfortable speaking up. If employees consistently try to meet with you to no avail, they will eventually assume that employee communication is not important to you and stop trying. But if you lead the way, by creating multiple opportunities for employees to speak up, they will.
3) Regularly update employees: Keep your employees in the loop on upcoming decisions, events, mergers or any other changes you anticipate will be important. If your employees have complete information, they will be able to make more informed recommendations.
Why this matters: Open dialogue in the workplace will only be helpful in an environment where employees are informed. If they are not, they will fire off suggestions that are not in line with where the organization is headed strategically.
4) Help your employees develop effective presentation skills: There will come a time for most of your employees when they will have to present ideas in formal meetings. Do not let poor presentation skills be the hurdle to having your employee’s idea considered by executives. Utilize training programs if necessary.
Why this matters: Open communication in the workplace is not just about throwing all of your thoughts out there. It is about being able to present your ideas in a way that others will understand. Effective presentation skills will help you do this. People are more likely to respond favorably to an idea communicated in an effective, professional way.
How do you encourage open dialogue at your office?