Three ways to sharpen your communication skills
Whether it’s liaising with clients or your own staff, good communication skills lie at the heart of every business. But with so many different personalities in the workplace, it can be challenging to meet the needs of everyone and ensure your key messages are translated in the right way.
Employment expert Marcel Schwantes argues that one of the key reasons employers lose good staff is down to poor communication. By failing to listen, not being available and keeping information from the team, you run the risk of generating a culture of mistrust. On the opposite end of the spectrum, good practice can lead to growth in opportunities, employee trust and better rates of retention.
So what can you do to ensure your company communicates in the right way?
It’s pointless to use technology for the sake of it, but in the right context, it can be a great way to boost your communication skills and strategy. In a recent study, 76% of office workers suggested they’d like to have more communication tools available to them in the future, making the case for greater investment in technology. And with around 75% of the workforce expected to be from the millennial generation by 2025, the digital options are likely to grow further. One option for internal communication is the adoption of a social network, such as Yammer, to encourage communication between employees in a public setting. If company leaders are also willing to share key messages and information about the brand, it’s likely to boost your image with employees and build trust. Team building apps and tools are another great way to engage your team, particularly if you’re experiencing challenges or grievances. Whether it’s an interactive activity requiring tactics and skill, technology provides a quick and easy way to get involved in new bonding exercises.
Meet and invest time
If you really want to engage your employees, the best thing to do is to make enough time for them. Emails and other modes of communication are a fantastic way to share some messages, but you can’t replace one-on-one time with staff. Organise regular catch ups with your team members, to find out how they’re getting on and any challenges they’re facing. Frequent feedback is another key factor for success and should be built into management roles. If you’re looking to take it one step further and treat your employees as equals, you could even consider group feedback or management feedback sessions, where employees are able to talk openly about processes in a safe environment. If carefully executed, it can be an effective way to show your employees that you’re not only listening, you’re taking their comments onboard. If you want to keep it anonymous, keep a communication suggestions box open at all times so that everyone can contribute their ideas.
For some people, great communication skills come naturally. For others, it takes time and practice. But whether you’re a pro at getting the message right or still learning, you must make the time to continue your development in this area. All managers should be receiving regular communication training, with companies ensuring they keep up with the newest and best tools. A study from Gallup shows management communication skills impact up to 70% of the variance in team engagement. As well as structured courses and learning opportunities, you may also consider sending managers for specific training in public relations, media and public speaking. While not everything will be directly relevant to their role, it will give your staff a more rounded perspective, as well as developing transferable skills that can be used in other workplace situations. Encouraging regular self-assessments for all staff can also be hugely beneficial, as personal reflection can help to guide the direction your training sessions should take. Ultimately, communication development should be a collaborative team effort that involves and engages the whole team.