The way we communicate with each other has changed. In some ways, it’s more convenient. In other ways, it’s holding us back. Communication is vital to your company’s productivity, and effective internal communication can make or break your business.
If done well, it will bring great results. If done poorly, it will leave your employees unable to perform at their best. What are the worst internal communication challenges to overcome? Read on to find out!
1. Is the communication lacking culture?
The recent emphasis on company culture isn’t much ado about nothing – it’s the way things will be from now on. As social consciousness and value awareness is raised among consumers, it’s also raised among employees. People are more interested in working for companies that share their perspectives on important issues, such as environmental impact and striving for positive change.
If this is part of your company culture, you need to express it regularly. Opening up communications about what your accomplishments mean for your culture and the ways you strive to be better will remind your employees why they’re working for you. They’ll see themselves beyond a mere cog in a machine – they will be part of a team on a mission.
Be sure to outline and define your workplace culture. Let it guide your communication in the right direction and talk about it on a daily basis. Keep everyone invigorated, celebrate major successes. Encourage friendliness and strong work relationships. That’s the greatest motivator your employees could possibly get, and it doesn’t cost a thing to implement.
2. Getting teams to come together
One of the worst communication breakdowns occurs between team members. Each member of the team is talented, and an expert in what they do, but they sometimes work independently. One hand needs to know what the other is doing. There can’t be any real synergy if everyone is assuming they know what everyone else is up to. There are things team members can do for other team members to streamline the completion of a project, and successful teamwork revolves around that communication.
Even if your team members work independently, make sure they meet regularly to discuss progress and ideas. Those check-ins can prevent obstacles and misunderstandings that might otherwise cause a project to last much longer than anticipated. Sometimes, you might need to re-delegate tasks. Other times, you might need to bring in some additional help to finish a project in a timely manner. A 20-minute talk could save an entire day of lost productivity.
3. Absent leaders can’t have a say
The invisible boss is no longer an acceptable concept. People want a direct relationship with their leaders, and they expect to see that their leader is holding up their end of the deal. If leaders only come to check the work after it’s been done, it can be a nightmare when revisions need to be made. All the time a team member spends doing things the wrong way gets swirled away down the drain. What’s worse, they’ll now have to spend twice as much time doing it the right way — pushing back your deadlines.
Leaders should be available as often as possible, especially to ask the team if they need anything. They need to be willing to help pick up the slack and coach team members through the things they struggle with. Team members don’t always understand that leaders are doing something important behind the scenes. They need to see the efforts made right in front of their eyes for them to fully conceptualize what the leader’s role entails.
Leaders need to have empathy for the people they are leading. An important part of that is leading by example. Show that you are willing to sit at the table with everyone else and take requests as often as you make them. This way you’ll bring the communication and unity needed to enhance productivity by reinforcing shared goals an efforts.
4. Using screens appropriately
Internal emails and messaging apps are one of the biggest conveniences you can get. Your employees want to be informed about what’s going on with the day-to-day business. This is especially true about Millennials and Gen Z, who expect to get information instantaneously.
Make sure you’re crafting amazing internal emails to get the word out. By making all of the information relevant, choosing a format that’s easy for your employees to navigate, and keeping the tone engaging, people are more likely to care about reading things they would have brushed past.
5. Mastering emergency communications
If the situation is an emergency or involves a major change, it’s better to call an impromptu or abruptly scheduled meeting to convey your message and let people get back to work.
Even though that meeting might cut into regular productivity by disrupting the workday, you can ensure that everyone received the exact same message at the exact same time. You’ve also established a two-way street where people can take turns asking questions and getting answers all at once, rather than leaving an email open to redundant and disruptive replies. Everyone will be able to get back to work much sooner and with certainty about what they’re doing.
6. Different generations communicate differently
Millennials and Gen Z don’t communicate the same way previous generations do. These generations have had social media and ease of communication their whole lives. They’ve always had quick access to information and answers at their fingertips, and it’s made them more efficient communicators. They absorb information quickly, and you’d be surprised at just how much information they seek.
They’re slightly less patient than previous generations. They want to be able to work quickly and find the most direct route to completing a task.
That’s why communication to these generations should involve the necessary resources and a bit of empowerment. They don’t respond well to micromanaging styles of communication because it’s their inclination to be more independent. Give them what they need, answer all of their questions, and empower them to do the things they do well.
Lastly, but certainly not least, ask the employees of your company what they need from their higher-ups in terms of communication. Keeping an open door is one of the best operating practices any company can have. Talk all the time — about anything and everything. It’s the best way to make everything a little better.
Have you come across internal communication challenges in your office? How did you manage to overcome them? Share your stories, comments, and ideas below!