More often than not, employees are a company’s most valuable assets, so it makes sense to invest in the corporate culture that helps them succeed. While vacation days and fringe benefits (health insurance, stock options, employee discounts, et al) are appealing lures, the heart of the employee experience occurs during business hours, as staff members interact with each other.
Good communication is square one for employers seeking to reinforce relationships with workers and it creeps in to every aspect of business operations. In many cases, communication mechanisms fall short on the job, leaving room for most companies to improve their standards and reduce the communication gap with employees.
Credibility and Communication
Credibility is an important area to focus on when it comes to influencing effective communication between employees and their superiors. When executed correctly, communication with workers reinforces trustworthiness for managers and other high-level employees. But if there is a deep communication gap between bosses and staff members, it can ultimately undermine productivity and employee engagement.
At its core, communication with employees is just sharing information, but it is also layered with influencing how employees perform. For effective communication from bosses to employees, here are the three essential principles to follow:
Honesty - Nothing erodes employee confidence faster than dishonest communication (as mentioned above). While some information is clearly reserved for higher-level access, sharing honest discourse with employees goes a long way to reinforce credibility.
Respect – Work hierarchies can be alienating to lower-level employees, who can easily feel less valuable to the workplace than their bosses. Respectful communication, both written and verbal, helps bridge the communication gap felt across varying departments. An effective strategy for reinforcing each employee’s value to the company includes proactive communication from upper-level bosses, directly to line-level employees.
Trust – For security purposes, certain information simply can’t be shared with the entire workforce. However, trust reinforces employees’ perceived value to the company, so whatever can be done to include them in the big picture helps foster job satisfaction and better performance among staff.
Some of the most important ideas shared with employees relate to job functions and employer expectations. Without clearly articulated instructions, employees wind up improvising and this can lead to being much less productive. Even job turnover rates are higher when communications fail, frustrating staffers without well-defined job descriptions and mission statements in place.
To bridge the communication gap at work, be candid with employees, encouraging them to ask specific questions about their job roles. Successful managers communicate with staffers in groups, but also facilitate one-on-one contact with each employee they supervise.
Just as important as formal, instructive communication, effective approaches also include informal contact with employees. Reaching out to staffers when you don’t necessarily need something specific fortifies their engagement when you do call upon them to act on a particular need. Casually asking how a project is going, for example, shows employees you are all in it together. And even occasional small-talk keeps lines of communication open between employees and higher-ups.
Too often, employers focus on top-down communication, carefully crafting mechanisms for disseminating information from managers to employees. But successful communication is a two-way exchange.
Effective communication also provides channels for employee feedback, encouraging them to share ideas and suggestions for increasing productivity within the company. And it isn’t enough to simply request feedback – acting on employee suggestions keeps them engaged and eager to provide further input as well as being able to find ways to reward employees with their own ideas.
Reducing the communication gap at work starts with honest discourse; furnishing two-way mechanisms for staffers and bosses to share ideas.
This is a guest post by Sarah Brooks from Freepeoplesearch.org. She is a Houston based freelance writer and blogger. Questions and comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.