Is there healthy dialogue happening between coworkers in your organization?
BEAM20 Feb, 2017
Businesses spend a lot of time focusing on how they communicate with customers. While this is important, you also have to think about internal communication. Is there healthy dialogue happening between coworkers in your organization? If the answer is no, then something needs to change.
Communication…the mere mention of the word may conjure up an image of a counselor talking a couple through marital strife. It’s a loaded word that we all know is important, yet few successfully master. While necessary in personal relationships, communication is also important in the workplace. Healthy communication fosters better collaboration, strategies, decision making, and execution. It also affects these other important issues:
How can your organization actively prioritize strong communication between coworkers? Well, it all starts with a game plan. Every organization is unique in size, structure, and makeup, but the following tips tend to be universally applicable.
“You might have a firm grasp on who your audience is, but how well do you know your employees? Messages from superiors in the workplace are better received when the superior also takes time out once in awhile to just say hello, or ask how their weekend was,” says Angela R. of DialMyCalls. “Small talk is a communication method that helps to build trust, making the big talks better heard.”
Most people hate small talk. It’s cheap, pointless, and doesn’t really have any value. With that being said, small talk is important in the sense that it makes people feel more comfortable with one another, opening up the door for meaningful conversations in the future.
Next time you walk through the hallway and see someone you don’t know very well, stop and ask them how their day is going. Talk about the weather, a game you know they probably watched last night, or their plans for an upcoming holiday. In doing so, you invite them to make small talk with you down the road. And finally, at some point in the future when you need their help, you’ll have a little bit of a foundation to work with.
If you know that you have a culture of poor communication in your organization, then you may want to take a very direct, targeted approach. One classic way to open up new channels of communication is to conduct occasional team building exercises that require individual coworkers to collaborate around a central objective.
“No matter how well your team communicates, using group activities to strengthen existing skills can be an enjoyable way of developing good working relationships,” Mind Tools assures businesses. “They're especially useful for building relationships and improving communication in new teams, and for solving communication issues within existing teams.”
InnovativeTeamBuilding.com provides a number of unique and effective options. There are exercises that last just 10 or 15 minutes, as well as ones that last an hour or more. The great thing about these exercises is that they can be tailored to both small groups and large audiences.
Sometimes individuals are bad at communicating with one another because they’re unaware of how they’re supposed to communicate. This problem is typically rooted in a lack of clear communication channels.
Every individual in the organization should know who they report to, who reports to them, and how those people fit into the larger company structure. This isn’t to say you need rigid lines of communication where certain people are only allowed to interact with certain individuals, but there does need to be some agreed upon configuration.
When individuals know who they’re responsible for communicating with, it makes it much easier to share ideas and collaborate. Less time is spent crafting your message according to how you think someone will respond. Instead, you can cut straight to the chase.
“If we’re honest with ourselves, it’s quite obvious that traditional annual performance reviews are a thing of the past. The workforce of today expects to hear how they are doing regularly, not once a year,” expert Diego Santos says. In fact, a recent study reveals that 80 percent of today’s workers favor instant and regular feedback over traditional annual reviews.
Feedback is something that’s important inside of an organization, but looks much different than it did 15 or 20 years ago. In order to ensure everyone is on the same page and getting constructive criticism and encouragement on a regular basis, there must be a feedback loop.
While the term may sound intimidating, a feedback loop is nothing more than a process that defines how actions are evaluated and assessed in the organization. Many feedback loops are natural and happen in daily conversation, but you’ll also need to create some formal feedback loops for a more analytical look at progress.
The final tip is to encourage an open door policy. And while most people think about open door policies in a practical sense – with the boss leaving their door open throughout the day – they transcend physically propping a door open.
A good open door policy means anyone in the organization can talk to anyone at any given time. That might sound obvious, but is this really true in your company? Can the new intern go talk to the CEO if he has a question? Does the part-time guy in the mailroom feel like he’s able to eat lunch with the receptionist who’s been there for 20 years? An open door policy means everyone feels comfortable enough to approach anyone.
Fostering a business that prioritizes internal dialogue and cares about how coworkers are communicating with one another is no easy task. You’ll face resistance and try plenty of techniques that don’t work. But, at the end of the day, you need to stay committed. A culture of healthy collaboration isn’t something that happens overnight, but it can be killed overnight. When things seem like they’re just puttering, stay the course and try some new strategies.
This article was first published on Mashable