Communication forms the backbone of pretty much everything we do in life. So it shouldn’t be any wonder that taking steps to improve employee communication can do wonders for your company culture.
The Dunning-Kruger effect occurs when people overestimate their skills or knowledge in a particular area. Frequently, this happens when they don’t have many skills or much knowledge on a subject.
This can also be true for the opposite end of the spectrum, where high performers underestimate their skills (imposter syndrome, anyone?).
Knowing how to communicate the good and the bad—and everything in between—is imperative for a better company culture.
It prevents written or verbal communication being misinterpreted, and ensures every employee knows what’s expected of them. This keeps everyone focused and boosts employee engagement.
So, how can you improve employee communication, and with it, your company culture?
Set an example
Employees follow the examples set by their superiors. If you want to improve employee communication, it starts by looking at how you communicate with employees from the top down.
How do you speak to them? Is it with respect and an open mind?
Do you subconsciously project your bad moods onto those around you?
If you’re not sure, ask your employees—at every level—for their feedback. How do they feel in your presence? When you send them an email? In a meeting?
If you want to get some really honest feedback, you could ask them to submit their comments anonymously. That way, you know you’re getting answers that will really help you improve.
When asking employees for feedback, be sure to act on it, even if you dislike what’s been said. Most business don’t act on feedback they get from their employee surveys, which leads to people feeling like they’re a waste of time.
To create a positive company culture, you have to show that you’re willing to listen to good and bad feedback, then make changes accordingly.
Clearly explaining how employees should communicate helps everyone understand the best way to talk to their colleagues and grow the company culture.
Your people will be much more able to understand how to communicate if you show them examples in different contexts rather than telling them to do this or that.
The more examples you can show, the more employees will come to understand the types of communication that are the most effective in the workplace.
Remember: it’s a skill
Many people forget (or don’t realize) that communication is a skill. We have to actively work to get better at it.
Sometimes, we can learn bad communication habits from our family, friends, or job.
Every business has different expectations of their employees and how they work together. This results in every business having subtly different communication skills, and employees taking those with them when they leave and go somewhere new.
Teaching employee communication should therefore be treated like any other skill an employee might have to learn.
Including it in your onboarding is a great way to show how you expect everyone to communicate in your business. It’s also one of the easiest ways to improve employee communication from day one.
Another way to improve employee communication is by holding workshops.
If you’re short on time, this could be a lunch and learn, or even a series of lunch and learns with each one focused on a different area, such as:
- Spoken feedback
- Written feedback
- Writing emails
- Effective meeting conduct
- Body language
If you’re unsure, you could send an employee survey to get people’s thoughts on what areas of communication they’d most like help with.
Suggest some reading
Recommending a book is a subtle way to show your employees the kind of communication you want to encourage in your business.
When it’s a nonfiction book, it can also reflect your values and give employees key takeaways for the workplace.
An example is “Radical Candor” by Kim Scott. This book talks about how to effectively communicate in an open and honest way without causing offense.
You don’t have to share recommendations via a structured book club. That said, if you do, it’s worth setting up an employee group to connect everyone.
You could offer recommended reads as part of your onboarding process, or share a recommendation during a meeting.
To make these recommendations inclusive, try to only suggest books that are easy to read and have an audiobook available. Extra points if it’s available from libraries (or employees can request it to their library).
Encourage the use of plain English
Many people assume plain English means boring, but it doesn’t. What it actually means is cutting the fluff from your writing.
Not the personality, but the long sentences; the in-depth descriptions; the sentences without punctuation.
All these things make your writing less accessible and harder for someone to understand.
The most popular newspaper in the UK has an average reading age of eight, despite its audience being adults, for a reason.
If you can make people do less mental work, even if your employees are highly educated, they’re more likely to understand what you say and take action. In turn, this will help them tailor their own writing, so you can improve employee communication on two fronts.
Don’t forget body language
It’s not just our words that speak—our body language does, too. However, we’re not always that good at interpreting it.
When I first started doing poetry readings, my university lecturer said that the audience will look disinterested not because they’re ignoring me, but because they’re concentrating.
He was right. Eyes were closed; arms were crossed. I felt like I’d lost them.
But at the end, they all smiled and clapped and complimented me. So they had been listening, even though they hadn’t been sitting on the edges of their uncomfortable plastic seats.
Body language can also be cultural, or even related to someone’s health issues.
So, consider the bigger picture when judging someone based on theirs, and don’t make assumptions.
And don’t forget that your employees may misread your body language, too.
For instance, if you sit with your arms crossed, they may see you as defensive or inaccessible. It could be that you’re really just cold though because you sit under the AC!
Effective employee communication is at the heart of every business. The more you seek to improve your communication skills, the more your employees will follow your example and get better at communicating with each other, too.
If you want to improve employee communication in an organic way, giving your team additional space to interact and grow is important. If people only interact with their direct team, they’ll only learn that one communication style. Connecting everyone through an all-in-one hub ensures employees interact with a wider circle of colleagues.
Plus, Workrowd makes it easy for team members to start initiatives that improve employee communication like Toastmasters groups, lightning talks, and more. If this sounds useful for your workplace, visit us online to learn more, or send us a note at email@example.com.