If you haven’t made communication in the workplace Job Number 1…You’re crazy!
1. Communication is critical for…everything.
Communication in the workplace is the center of organizational success. What we mean when we say the word organization is that our mission, the job roles that support it is well-understood. Our ideas and their transmission are organized. Things make sense.
The most basic element of effective communication at work is clarity. When ideas are expressed clearly and concisely, people can engage them and make them a reality. If they remain vague and ill-defined, all attempts to realize them will encounter friction and resistance.
Put it another way: If you know where you’re going, it’s usually easier to get there. So, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that organizations that communicate well are more successful than one that don’t. The McKinsey Global Institute found that productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations when employees are “connected” by communication in the workplace.
You know it. I know it. Managers, employees and business owners know it too. Sound communication at work is important. So, why is it so hard to find?
2. The workforce lacks effective communicators. Period.
Everyone says “I’m and effective communicator.” on their resume. The problem is that it likely isn’t true.
Every year the Manpower Group, a human resources consultancy, conducts a worldwide “Talent Shortage Survey.” Last year, 39% of 38,000 U.S based employers reported difficulty filling jobs due to lack of available talent. And guess what skill was most cited as lacking in the professional workforce. According to a study published by Adecco Staffing, nearly half believed the critical gap was in “soft skills”. Specifically communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration.
It’s likely your workforce lacks basic skills when it comes to communication in the workplace. Scary. Feedback is engaging. If you give some, you’ll get some. The time to jump start feedback in your company is now.
3. Communication leads to trust. Without trust…you’re screwed.
We’ve all worked for organization where communications were strained. I’ll bet you just loved it. Are your employees afraid to speak up? Don’t encourage continuous feedback? Your competitors are winning due to effective feedback strategies. So, what can you do to catch up?
Well, the interwebs are replete with vendors, advice, methods, and strategies to solve your every communication woe. But I’m going to make it very simple for you. Much more simple than experts make it out to be. Here it is. Practice makes perfect.
It’s simple. Frequency of communication leads to transparency. Transparency holds hands with honesty. Honesty encourages trust. No surprises. No uncertainty. Just pure simple clarity.
That’s why soft skills are important. Soft skills are social skills. They represent the basic building blocks of organization and effective communication in the workplace. Soft skills make the workplace function properly. They include such groundbreaking innovations as the ability to talk in groups and one on one, using social etiquette, understanding basic group dynamics, and the ability to collaborate as a team.
We know there’s a skills gap when it comes to communication in the workplace. But did you know it was this bad? Edelman found that that an unbelievable 82% of people don’t trust their boss to tell them the truth. This prompted Richard Edelman to remark in 2013, “We are clearly experiencing a crisis in leadership.”
If people don’t have trust in their bosses, they aren’t likely to share their concerns. And if employees won’t share their problems, how will management ever organize their solutions? More frequent conversation leads ultimately to less risk of failure.
If they won’t tell you, no one will. Until it’s too late. So, practice, practice, practice. The more people talk, the better they get at it.
4. You have what it takes to improve internal communications. So it’s your fault.
No need to recreate the wheel. Simple innovations will catalyze improvement.
Use Technology. Make the world go round.
Move your paper processes to the cloud. Want more conversation? Digitize them.
Folks. It’s almost 2017. How organizations still lack the simple software necessary for fluid workplace communication is really unbelievable. For the most part, feedback between employees and managers remains an analog system. Pen and paper. Stacks of paper. Manually updating spreadsheets? Good luck quantifying any findings relevant to higher levels of leadership.
The time your company invests in clunky processes easily outweighs any productivity gains they were meant to realize in the first place. Managers hate the paper push. Leaders can’t get the data they need. Employees see it for what is: a useless waste of time. If you’re using a paper process, you are wasting mucho capital. Stop it. You’re making people crazy.
Revamp your performance review process.
Despite what blogs and pundits have said about their imminent demise, performance reviews are alive and well. And they ought to be.
Don’t ditch reviews. Improve them. It’s easier than it sounds. Shorten them. Target them for individual job roles. Digital platforms makes this easy.
A once-a-year performance review in isolation sucks for a hundred reasons. But in the proper context, where it’s one of many opportunities for constructive two-way feedback, they remain an effective performance milestone.
Talk more often. Check-ins rock.
Annual Performance reviews don’t satisfy a basic requirement of effective communication. Frequency. You simply can’t get good at anything you do only once a year. That includes workplace communication.
You need check-ins. Manager and employee check-ins. Short. To the point. Quarterly at a minimum. Weekly if you can swing it. Workplace communication cannot be reduced to single annual meeting. Employees want feedback, perhaps the millennials more than anyone. Given the oncoming boomer retirement rates – this is no longer a luxury of tech-startups. Continuous feedback is fast becoming a must-have requirement for the future of work.
Call them OKRs if you prefer. Whether you’re doing monthly rounding ala the Studer Group or you’re a CPA firm conducting on-demand reviews of your audit teams, your goals should be ever-present. Accountability, innovation, customer service, etc. should remain front and center – as often as possible. They should be so easily accessible for managers and employees, they don’t have to go and find them when it’s time to complete some year-end paperwork. They should be interwoven into every conversation, every day.
Defining a goal sets the destination. It’s feedback that turns the engine over.
Provide a forum for employees to speak, and you will hear their voice. Make it easy for them to contribute, and they’ll do it freely and frequently.
If all of this sounds like work, I’ve got good news for you. There is a cost-effective, fully mobile, digital platform for all your communication needs. Click here for more information.