There is no successful workplace (internal and external) without effective communication. Communication skills are essential for connecting with teams, reducing conflict, and interacting with humans outside the workplace.
Indeed, the pandemic has changed our way of communicating, but technology is here to help us. From discussing projects, monthly meetings, or just saying hello via video call. In other words, strong communication will enhance the work culture and bring fruitful results.
Unfortunately, many companies need help understanding how to communicate effectively. According to HBR, 37% need clarification about how to give feedback, 19% have difficulty providing clear directions, and 16% are tough when speaking casually.
The importance of effective communication
In the workplace, effective communication brings several benefits to the company: productivity, team engagement, trust, and retention.
- The Connected Culture Report said 71% of employees feel more productive if their co-workers have good relationships. A good relationship occurs because of regular communication.
- McKinsey says that well-connected teams experience a 20-25% increase in productivity.
- Lexicon says that more than 80% of Americans believe employee communication is vital for developing trust with an employer.
- Lack of open and honest communication undermines employees' trust in the company. A study from the Workforce Institute shows that as many as 24% of employees leave a company because they don't feel trusted.
The findings above should make us aware that effective communication plays a big role in the work environment. Good communication provides an understanding of their roles and expectations. The long-term result is that the company can enhance services, achieve objectives and save the company's budget.
Workplace communication skills
This skill is in more than just public speaking or listening. The scope is more than that!
1. Listening skills
First and foremost, everyone needs to listen to each other. More than that, they need to think about what is being said, understand then decide to give an appropriate response.
Empathy is the second component of communication skills. Put yourself in the person's shoes, understand how they feel, understand their problems and frustrations, and get more of a sense of how you can help them. Empathy connects your emotions with others.
3. Honest and open-minded
Being open and honest is a mandatory combination in communication. Open-mindedness indicates that you are willing and able to change ideas for new information.
4. Receiving and giving feedback
It can sometimes be uncomfortable when you have yet to reach a standard or do something your way, but others offer criticism and suggestions instead. But accepting genuinely well-meant feedback helps an awful lot in moving forward.
The same goes for when you give feedback. Use good and positive words so that others can accept them.
5. Emotional Intelligence
Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to manage emotions. This skill makes you much calmer and less reactive and puts you in the shoes of a better communicator.
Barriers to effective communication
Of course, there are always obstacles to effective communication in the workplace. Virtual communication challenges may be different from face-to-face communication. We'll see what virtual communication barriers might happen.
Linguistic barriers include in the form of written, verbal and physical cues when conveying messages. For example, when a virtual team has just met for the first time, language differences, different dialects, or unclear body language can be barriers.
Distance is the most crucial physical barrier. In separate workspaces, remote workers will feel constrained which hinders interaction.
Emotional barriers include doubt, anxiety, fear, disappointment, or boredom. For example, managers who intimidate employees open discussions full of anger.
How to foster effective communication in the workplace
So now, let's discuss how to foster effective communication in the workplace.
1. Involving employees in communication
A leader, project manager, or CEO, is a pioneer in effective communication. They should set an example to the team or employees to communicate effectively.
Try to open interaction with the team/employees as an opportunity to involve them. Don't just tell them what to do. When one of them asks a question in the discussion, don't just answer. Try to ask questions back that empower them.
2. Open-door-policy and ensuring trust
An open-door policy is difficult, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. This policy allows the team to voice opinions, concerns, and suggestions at any time. This can be a source of trust within the company.
Management and C-levels that feel exclusive build a negative image in employees. So try to keep the doorways open to encourage openness and mutual trust from employees.
3. Using chat tools
Technology has an essential role in communication, especially communication with remote workers. To create effective communication, determine the main tools employees use in touch.
In remote workers, the choice of technology for communication is more complex. You need to consider a tool that can meet almost any employee's needs, including real-time chat, progress tracking, project management tools, etc.
4. On-boarding new employees
New employees must find it challenging to keep up with developments in the workplace. One solution is an onboarding program for them. The onboarding program will align employees' ethics, work culture, and capabilities, including communication.
5. Anonymous feedback
Sometimes more than an open-door policy is needed. So, companies need to consider the anonymous feature in providing feedback. We all understand that sometimes feedback is challenged by employees or management.
Companies can use Google Forms to create anonymous feedback. Create an atmosphere of safety and comfort for employees to encourage them to open up more.
6. Increasing clarity in virtual meetings
Think again, how many times have we held virtual meetings that actually had no clear purpose? Even though meetings are essential to gather different perspectives and then align them. But the critical point is that you must manage them in a way that supports effective communication.
Make a detailed agenda before the meeting. Formulate what issues will be discussed, the duration, and who will be involved. When the meeting is over, ensure all participants understand what must be done, who is responsible, and the deadline. To raise engagement, remember to say you're there if they need help.
Listening is one of the communication skills that every individual must master. Remember that communication is a two-way process, which means listening and responding to each other.
Establishing effective communication means allowing others to share their ideas and thoughts. It also implies empathy for that person. Believe that by listening, communication becomes smoother.
In essence, effective communication in the workplace is not just about the ability to convey ideas accurately, present information, or provide feedback. It's also about more than just reducing conflict and creating a positive environment. More than that. Communication envelopes the company from all flanks, including productivity, company culture, employee engagement, and innovative thought.