When it comes to managing a team and running a business, healthier communication is a vital ingredient. Yet if you study most companies today, you’ll see that workplace collaboration is suffering. Is the same true of your business?
The Challenges of Communication in the Workplace
Before discussing tips on how to foster healthier communication in the workplace, it is important to discuss the challenges that often prevent it. You’d think that, being raised in a culture where communication is necessary in order to survive as individuals, that we’d come into a business setting ready and able to engage others in efficient and effective ways. However, this isn’t always true. Effective internal and healthier communication in the workplace is often stunted by a number of friction points.
- Diversity. As beautiful and necessary as diversity is in the workplace, let’s not pretend like it’s always harmonious. The more diverse your culture, the more unique backgrounds you have with your employees. And since a person’s background shapes how he/she views communication with others, expectations and execution aren’t always aligned. One person might have been raised in a culture where holding everything close to the vest is the norm, whereas another person might have been raised to have no filter. (Personality also has a great deal to do with how people approach communication.)
- Autonomy. There’s always a power struggle inside businesses as team members seek to balance the pursuit of their own interests and comforts with the larger objectives of the organization. If individual autonomy is prized over organizational autonomy, communication becomes strained.
- Scarcity. In organizations where employees have a scarcity mindset, they’re unlikely to be as transparent as they should. They hold onto information to improve their own standing in the organization. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of withholding valuable insights from the rest of the team.
- Lack of clarity. In many cases, a lack of healthier communication is the direct result of a lack of clarity, which starts from the top and flows down. If leadership/management does establish clear rules and expectations regarding collaboration, there will be confusion over what to do, what to say, and how to act in various situations.
These are just a few of the most common driving forces behind a lack of communication. If you take the time to cut through the noise and focus on your situation, you can probably identify at least two or three other factors that hit home in your business. Understanding what these are will help you make headway.
3 Ways to Foster Better Internal Communication
Armed with some understanding of what’s holding you back, let’s get practical. Here are some specific ways you can begin to foster better internal communication in your organization:
- Use SMS Instead of Email
In most organizations, email is the primary communicative medium for internal collaboration. And while it has its place in the collaborative toolset, it’s time that we stop viewing it as the best option for every situation.
Email often gets ignored, messages go unopened, and employees can easily become distracted in their inboxes. (The average employee receives well over 100 emails per day.) But there is an alternative – or at least a complementary option – that’s faster, more visible, and generates better engagement. We’re talking about text messaging (SMS), of course. And you can use it in almost any situation where you’d traditionally rely on email.
“Improve productivity, morale and overall workflow in your business or organization by including text messaging in your internal communications. Send company updates and event reminders, notify staff of emergencies, coordinate work schedules, provide education on HR policies and benefits, and ask for employee feedback,” TextMarks explains.
You never want to overload an employee’s phone with texts, which is seen as an invasion of privacy. When something is urgent and/or important, though, SMS is far superior to email.
- Simplify Meetings
Meetings…meetings…and more meetings. Over the past seven or eight months, the business world has been exposed to death by meetings. Whether by Zoom or in a conference room, the use of meetings has exploded. It’s not uncommon for an employee to spend five or six hours per day bouncing around from meeting to meeting, which leaves virtually no time to get work done.
If you want to mold your business into an efficient workplace where people get stuff done (not just plan or talk about how to get stuff done), dramatically reducing the number of meetings is a must. Replace them with quick 10-minute huddles where a maximum of three to five people are invited.
- Implement Intranet Software
Every business – particularly those operating remotely – can benefit from implementing an intranet solution into their tech stack. These platforms act as centralized digital hubs where your team can share and store files, communicate, view calendars, and monitor progress. Think of it like a dedicated social media feed for your business (complete with messaging, file sharing, and individual profiles).
If you’ve never tried an intranet solution, now is a great time to test it out. Implemented correctly, it can be a total game-changer.
Empower Your Business to Succeed
You can’t make people communicate well, but you can certainly empower them with the tools, frameworks, and expectations to do so. And as you increase your emphasis on this aspect of your business, you’ll find that positive change almost always follows. It will take some time, but if you’re willing to put in the work today, you’ll be rewarded with growth in the months and years to come.