It probably comes as no surprise that the most successful businesses are made up of highly engaged employees. These top-performing workforces share a relentless dedication to what’s in the best interest of their employers. They’re committed, determined and consistently instrumental in increasing their companies’ productivity. But there’s one secret ingredient to attracting, and more importantly retaining, these employees: effective communication strategies.
45% of workers say poor communication reduces trust both in leadership and in their team, according to a Forbes survey. And, that percentage only gets higher for remote workers, who can be more impacted by poor communication.
Whether you’re making a formal announcement about a corporate reorganization or talking with your employees about their workloads, having an effective communication strategy is vital.
So, how can you be sure you’re communicating with your workforce effectively across the entire organization? Here are 10 specific strategies for effective communication to help you foster employee engagement and impact your business’s success:
1. Consider the best delivery method
Modern technology offers many ways to communicate, but each has strengths and weaknesses. Choosing the right delivery method for a particular situation matters. For example, don’t call about a new company policy that will take recipients time to review. Instead, email so people have time to process the information and respond. Likewise, make as much use of face-to-face interaction as you can. When you must communicate something challenging or sensitive, nothing compares to in-person dialogue. Being in person means adding tone of voice, body language and other characteristics that color the content you’re sharing.
2. Keep it real
When delivering your message, be truthful and as complete as possible. Be transparent and let employees know if there are details you simply cannot share due to confidentiality. Even if they don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle, they’ll appreciate your honesty and likely be more supportive and, as a result, more engaged.
3. Be timely
Don’t wait until you have all the information to deliver a message. There is never a vacuum in communication. If the message doesn’t come from you directly, people will fill the information gaps with rumors or assumptions – which can lead to low morale, distrust and a lack of productivity. Communication is a process. Share what you can as often as you can.
4. Focus on consistency
Align your messages with your company’s mission, vision and values. Sharing the “why” behind a decision or change in direction helps your employees understand the reason behind the decision. This builds trust and a strong team mentality.
5. Tailor your message
Make sure your message is meaningful to your workforce and answers the question, “What’s in it for me?” This creates buy-in from your team and helps empower them to move forward with change more easily. You’ll create a sense of ownership that motivates employees to get on board and do their part for the greater good. Employees who feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves will become your company’s biggest advocates.
6. Reinforce it
Hearing something once is not enough. Everyone learns and processes information differently, so it’s critical that you communicate using diverse channels. Company meetings and email may be more appropriate for delivering formal messages, while small “town hall” meetings, social media, designated chat rooms and your company’s intranet can provide an informal forum for reinforcing communication. Remember, consistency across all channels is key.
7. Acknowledge others
When others are speaking, practice active listening. Pay attention to what someone is saying, and show you’re engaged with eye contact, facial expressions, nodding and overall body language. You may also offer small verbal feedback such as “right” or “yes,” encouraging the person to continue.
8. Minimize distractions
Nobody wants to compete for the attention of someone who’s scrolling social media or reading articles on a phone. When you’re talking with someone or listening in a meeting, put your phone and other devices away and out of sight. Stay engaged with what’s happening in front of you. Likewise, if you’re leading a workshop or giving a presentation, try to eliminate noises and disruptions from the environment, helping attendees hear you.
9. Encourage feedback
Just as you use multiple channels to communicate your message to employees, consider using those same channels to encourage feedback from them. It’s important that your employees feel comfortable sharing their questions and concerns. Your organization’s communication flow should be two-way – a dialogue, not a monologue. When you encourage feedback and listen to what employees have to say, you send the message to your employees that their opinions matter.
10. Empower your managers
Keep your middle managers in the loop from the start. They are the voice of your organization, the messengers between upper management and employees. By empowering them with information and effective communication strategies, they will be better equipped to deliver consistent messages to their teams and provide answers to any questions that may come up.
In some cases, such as in a company reorganization, it can be helpful to hold regular meetings with your middle management to update them on developing changes.
You may want to provide them with talking points they can readily share with their teams to ensure consistent messaging across departments and to avoid the spread of miscommunication.
Here are some things to think about when creating talking points:
- What information are we ready to communicate now?
- What information cannot yet be shared?
- Which communication channels will we use (both formal and informal)?
- What questions can we anticipate that our employees will ask when they hear this message?
- What are the appropriate responses to those questions?
Types of communication strategies to improve
No matter the industry, communication is foundational for business. Because of how communication affects every aspect of work, companies that prioritize effective communication strategies in the workplace reap all kinds of benefits. As you’re thinking about how to improve communication skills, here are main areas worth growing:
- Verbal communication: For most people, the word “communication” connotes some kind of speaking. From one-on-one conversations to group presentations, phone calls to video chats, verbal communication makes up a big portion of business dialogue.
- Written communication: At the same time, digital technology has enabled various kinds of written interaction, such as emails, files, PDFs, reports, memos, blogs and website content. This is on top of analog written communication by way of signs, handwritten notes, etc.
- Nonverbal communication: People communicate just as much (if not more) nonverbally as verbally. Think about facial expressions, posture, body language and style of dress. When you get serious about better communication, you can’t ignore the power of what you’re saying without words, too.
Summing it all up
Engaged employees are committed and driven to make your business a success. When you harness the power of communication through clear and consistent messaging, you empower your entire workforce to do their best work and take your business to the next level.
For more tips on how to implement effective communication strategies that can inspire your workforce, download our free magazine: The Insperity guide to leadership and management.