Are you having problems connecting with a colleague? Do you struggle to get your message across to your team? Or perhaps your instructions keep getting misinterpreted? Effective communication plays a vital role in the success of any business. Not only can it help to foster a healthy and positive work environment, but it can also boost productivity and help build a more efficient workforce. However, inspiring employee engagement and collaboration is not always an easy task. If you are a manager looking for ways to improve communication between you and your team and across the entire company, here are some simple tricks to get you started.
Have an open door policy
One of the easiest and most effective ways to improve working relationships is to allow for frequent opportunities for interaction. Closed door environments can create a barrier and give the impression that you are removed from the rest of your team, which is a sure-fire way to stifle collaboration. Having an open door policy on the other hand can help to keep a constant flow of communication between you and your staff members, while showing your accessibility and readiness to listen. It will also give you quicker access to information and keep you in the loop of the daily goings on in your department and across the business as a whole.
Create a collaborative office layout
Thankfully, the days of claustrophobic cubicles and private offices are mostly a thing of the past. Today, an increasing number of companies are adopting a company culture which encourages personnel to work together as a team and share ideas. This is where the open plan office comes into its own. When done right, an open plan work environment can create bonds and promote knowledge sharing, both of which can encourage employee engagement and boost productivity. It can also help to nurture a mentality of ‘we are all in this together’, as people will be more willing to ask for help, share workloads and bounce ideas off each other. Having flexible seating plans can also prompt employees to mingle with people from different departments and have impromptu discussions.
Provide alternative working zones
While an open plan layout certainly has its merits, if you want everyone in your team to communicate effectively, there needs to be a variety of workspaces. After all, offices are full of all types of personalities, from introverts to extroverts, so it is important to cater for everyone’s needs. For some people, the increased noise levels and constant disturbances associated with open offices can be a hindrance when it comes to interacting with others. For those who prefer to voice their thoughts in a less exposed setting, consider providing a variety of different workspaces, including both open and private areas. An easy way to create flexible work zones and facilitate different activities within the office is by using room dividers. Office partitions can allow you to create enclosed, quiet areas ideal for team meetings and one-to-one discussions, which can then be taken down or moved elsewhere when open communication and collaboration is needed.
Encourage face-to-face conversation
In today’s digital age of smartphones, social media and instant messaging, the art of conversation can feel less and less important. Today, office workers are accustomed to using emails and phones as their main means of communication, even with people within the same building. In fact, it is not uncommon for office workers to send an email to the person they are sitting next to rather than speak directly with them. While technology does offer a useful and efficient way of interacting at work, it can have a negative impact on personal relationships and can often result in miscommunication. No matter how good your intentions may be, when you remove gestures, facial expressions and body language from the equation, things can easily be taken the wrong way. Not only can these misunderstandings lead to mistakes that could cost the business time and money, but they can also escalate into unnecessary disputes and place strain on colleague relationships. To avoid these pitfalls, try to encourage your staff to speak face-to-face as much as possible. Speaking directly to each other can eliminate the risk of misinterpretation and help to instil a sense of camaraderie, which can improve cooperation.
Be open and transparent
If you want to build an engaged team, open and honest communication is a must. Being transparent about the goings on of the business and sharing important information with your employees will help to create an affable, open company culture where everyone feels like a valued member of the team. After all, teams flourish most in environments that encourage involvement and are built on mutual support and trust. Hold regular company meetings and encourage everyone to bring something to the table by voicing their concerns, ideas and frustrations. This will provide a sense of having a shared goal and being part of something bigger than individual duties. The result? Stronger team bonds, a more efficient workforce and improved performance.
Balance work with play
Another simple way to improve staff engagement is by introducing fun into the workplace. After all, employees can only communicate successfully when morale and motivation are high. By incorporating team building activities into daily work routines, you can help to bring people together, reduce stress levels and strengthen office dynamics. By allowing more time for recreational activities at work, your staff can have fun and develop their communication skills at the same time. Go for team lunches, establish a social committee and provide break-out areas where employees can temporarily get away from their desks to socialise and blow off steam. This will help people to feel more at ease with each other and give them the chance to form friendships beyond work demands and schedules.
There is no denying that being able to communicate effectively at work can take some time and effort. But by bearing simple tricks and tips like these in mind, you should be able to create a more engaged, collaborative workforce.