No big revelations here! It’s no surprise that communication is key in business; and life, really. We all know this, but still communication is consistently cited as the top frustrations among employees (and customers for that matter) when completing feedback surveys. Whether it is communication of expectations, communication between departments, or communication of the company direction and plans it is always up there, and most often sits across multiple facets of your business.
If it was easy then we’d all have mastered it years ago. I think nailing communication is going to be a life-long journey for most of us, so I’ve included some ideas for fostering and maintaining effective communication within your team. I would also love to hear from you with any particular practices that you swear by in your business.
Even for the most emotionally intelligent among us, when unsolicited feedback occurs both the deliverer and the receiver will have all their fight or flight responses ringing and find it difficult to focus on the takeaways. What can help this situation is to turn the tables and encourage a culture (or a process, initially) where people actively ask for feedback in a particular area or about a particular task. This means the receiver is mentally prepared for the feedback and the deliverer knows they are adding value in the desired area. It’s likely that as a manager you will still have to broach uninvited feedback from time to time, but if feedback is consistently flowing then it will be a less daunting task!
No one wants to have a meeting for no reason, but if it is decided that a regular meeting should occur (e.g., daily or weekly WIP or monthly team meeting) then it needs to run like clockwork. Constantly moving or cancelling meetings sends the message that this communication isn’t important and can leave your team confused about priorities and disengaged, particularly if those meetings are one-on-ones. The same goes for meetings consistently running over it shows a lack of respect for other people’s time and poor planning on the organisers’ behalf.
It is great to have structured times for communication across the month or year, but informal or unstructured communication can often be even more meaningful for your team members. Taking the time to have a coffee and chat about a recent project, or even genuinely asking someone how their weekend was while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil can go a long way to building trust and comfort that allows for more difficult conversations to be broached with ease.