Working as a business coach, clients often come to me with the same issue, over and over: lack of communication. Here are common communication complaints I here from owners and managers:
- “My team isn’t doing the things I told them needed to get done”
- “We created a new process but my team is not adhering to is”
To counter that, common responses I hear from employees are as follows:
- “We’re just doing exactly what we were told”
- “We don’t understand what he/she meant”
- “We didn’t even know about a new process”
What’s worse, this miscommunication creates a snowball effect. Work is carried out ineffectively, which in itself leads to a bad client experience. However, poor communication can also lead to a tense working environment among your team. Eventually, lack of communication can negatively impact company culture and even deter great workers from working for you.
So how do you prevent this all from happening?
The following 6 strategies will help you cultivate better communication. This will help you increase work efficiency, client satisfaction, and employee culture:
1. Create a communication strategy.
With every decision, process change, new client, or any change a communication strategy needs to be created. You need to determine the “Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How” for every circumstance that may arise.
For example, if your company gets a new client, the first step is to identify who will be impacted. Next, what do those people need to know? What do they need to do to prepare for this new client? Where will your company be affected? When do they need to know this? Why is a new client important to these specific people and your organization as a whole? Finally, how will you inform your team and how do you wish them to proceed once they are informed? Did you miss anything?
Going through the “5 W’s and an H” process is a great place to start to ensure you’ve covered everything, and communicate it effectively.
2. Create a communication process.
This is key! You need to determine the best way to communicate this change to the appropriate team members. If you have a company newsletter, text system, or way you communicate, communicate in all of them. And most important is to communicate both in writing and in person.
Just communicating in person leaves room for mistakes and inefficiency. People may not fully remember the information or you will end up having to repeat the same message over and over. Contrarily, communicating only in writing risks leaves a chance someone will not read it in time or the message will not fully sink in until reiterated in person. So make sure your process includes both.
3. Create the message
Include all of the information necessary, not just part of it. Ensure the message explains the strategy in full, but also WHY it is important to know. Communicating the “WHY” behind any change and relating it to your company vision, mission, and core values statement will help your employees feel “in the loop”, valued, and engaged in the team.
They’ll also understand the reasoning behind any change and, therefore, feel confident about implementing it, lowering the possibility of reverting back to old ways.
4. Let them know what they need to do
Get the team to understand what they need to do, change, or implement and get them to communicate back how they are going to go this, so you know they get it. Get them to tell you next steps and actions steps, so you know your decision is acted on properly.
Ensure your tone is friendly and encouraging, not patronizing, and reiterate your trust in them. You can even let them know that you are actively trying to improve your communication so everyone is on the same page and feels valued. Allow for questions at this point, so they feel they have input into the new decision, and feel valued.
5. Create a “next step” process
Once the information is communicated and you are confident your team understands, a “next step” process needs to be established. For instance, schedule a meeting to discuss how the change is being implemented, then ask how the team is coping, and continue to ask if anyone has any suggestions for improvement, or if everyone understands how the new process will help everyone. If not, let them have a conversation about it, and usually this brings everyone on board. Listening to their concerns is key.
Schedule this meeting BEFORE anything is implemented so they know they have an opportunity to voice concerns and have input, lowering the chance of any objections.
6. Follow up
You need to follow up with everyone in your organization that is impacted within the next 2 weeks. The following up process need not be as thorough or formal as the initial communication — it can be as simple as a quick conversation or email to ensure the intended information has been conveyed to the appropriate team members, and in return, they let you know they are on board.
Confirm that they received the message, they understand the “why”, they know what to do, they have made the changes. If they are still having any issues, listen. By now, they should know exactly what to do.
If the above 6 steps sound like a huge hassle, I have great news for you:
- The more difficult the above strategies feel to implement the more likely it is that poor communication is an issue within your company. This is great because identifying an issue is the first step to resolving it!
- As with most things in life and small businesses, the more often you use the above strategies, the easier they will be to implement over time. And your company’s communication will improve immensely as a result!
Still feel overwhelmed? Contact us and let’s have a conversation about how business coaching can improve your team’s communication.
If you enjoyed this post, you may find the following articles helpful:
- 7 Elements for the Perfect Meeting
- Trouble Hiring the Right People? Grow Your Team from Within Instead
- Want to Improve Employee Engagement? Listen to What Your Team Has to Say!
Cindy Piva is Founder and President of Thrive Business Strategies.