An effective workplace is an open workplace, where employees feel encouraged to share their thoughts, ideas and concerns with each other and with management. But achieving this may seem daunting. While every company and every situation is different, here are five tips to ensure effective workplace communication:
WORKPLACE TEAMBUILDING/TRAINING RETREATS – Coworkers and managers that know each other, that have bonded in some manner find the exchange of ideas much easier than in an office that goes by-the-book while trudging along in relative silence. Try organizing an after-hours party or cookout, or a day retreat where managers and coworkers enjoy outdoor recreation and learn to enjoy each other’s company.
EMPLOYEE FEEDBACK PROCEDURE – Any hope of open, effective communication in the workplace centers upon the creation and use of simple, straightforward feedback procedures for employees. Depending upon the structure of your office, allowing employees to meet with company brass monthly or weekly to discuss issues gives every employee a sense that he or she shares a stake in the company’s ultimate success, that he or she is not merely a cog in the machine.
ENSURE AN OPEN PROCESS OF CRITIQUE, NOT CRITICISM – Make sure that every mechanism for management evaluating employees centers on critiquing, not criticizing their performance. The difference is subtle, but important – a critique offers the employee clear specifics on their potential deficiencies while simple criticism often leaves them in doubt regarding where and how they failed to measure up. Making the process as even, clear and blameless as possible ensures that the employees in question will seek advice in improving their performance.
ENSURE COMMUNICATION AT ALL LEVELS – While a structured hierarchy helps many workplaces delineate a clear division of labor and resources, remember that employees who feel they have the ear of all segments of management tend to perform their duties better and tend to avoid initial mistakes by seeking pertinent advice beforehand. While this type of “open-door” policy is not possible at every business workplace, making it clear to your employees that their ideas and concerns are important to all levels of management goes a long way in facilitating open office communication.
ENCOURAGE EMPLOYEES TO SHARE IDEAS AND CONCERNS – This may seem repetitive, but your employees are the lifeblood of your business and so is your ability to effectively communicate. Ensuring a clear, open avenue of communication between them and all levels of management is the cornerstone of success. Weekly all-office meetings are a great place to start, so too are suggestion boxes. If applicable to your business, perhaps organizing a monthly contest for employees to share their best cost-saving idea, or safety tip, or time-management concern, with the winner getting movie tickets or a free meal.