How To Communicate With Employees - Dos And Donts
How To Communicate With Employees - Dos And Donts
The outbreak of Covid-19 and its consequences on employees – being forced to work remotely for varying periods of time and the spike of anxiety in the face of uncertainty – has exacerbated the importance of good employee communication to foster trust, uplift morale and strengthen relationships.
Beyond the challenges posed by Covid-19, employee communication is a key driver of employee engagement and has the potential to significantly impact productivity and wellbeing. Effective communication ensures better alignment between management and team members, and in turn creates optimal conditions for them to feel valued and inspired by the organisation’s purpose and participate in the success of the business.
Conversely, poor communication in the workplace will increase the occurrence of misunderstandings, with a risk of negatively impacting employees' motivation, and lead to a toxic culture where staff will question their confidence not only in their skills but also in the organisation.
While investing time and energy into building good employee communication is a foundation for a successful business, organisations are confronted with several challenges. Certain leaders will struggle to clearly communicate the direction of travel, and how it will impact employees. Some will be wary of open dialogues, apprehending negative feedback or criticism that will be difficult to address. Some will simply lack the skills, confidence, or struggle to make time.
The route to success will vary depending on the organisation’s size, nature, employee demographics. The below guide provides a snapshot of universal best practices to implement an effective approach to employee communication supporting a culture of trust and openness, and common pitfalls to avoid.
Invest time in getting to know your employees
Devising an effective communication approach requires a basic understanding of your employees: who are they, what are their needs, what challenges do they encounter?
The time investment will yield two-fold benefits: firstly, getting to know team members on a personal level will lay a foundation to build trust and openness, boosting employees’ faith in managers and leaders’ ability to listen and support. Secondly, to understand personal communication styles, allowing leadership to tailor the method and channel for effective information delivery.
Treat communication as a two-way process
Communicating with employees means reciprocity. While the delivery of information should be interactive with employees taking part in conversations with leadership, effective communication is about active listening too. Leaders and managers are not the sole disseminators of information and should seek employee feedback with a genuine intention to understand and act on the insights collected. Dedicating specific channels to collect that feedback on a rolling basis will empower team members to share their thoughts, ideas, or concerns to help the organisation perform better.
Share regular updates with employees, however partial they may be
Sharing regular updates – whether it be business-related or project-related – is crucial to supporting a culture of openness and making the team feel included in the latest business developments. Keeping employees informed in real-time means that some questions will be left open, however, transparency on progress and how the organisation is addressing potential challenges will not only help foster trust, but will also avoid conflicts stemming from misunderstandings, rumours, and assumptions.
Tip into the controlling extreme
Being in a managerial or leadership position entails treading a fine line when getting involved in employees’ jobs. While championing a culture of open conversations and mutual feedback is important, the difficulty lies in balance: listening and encouraging employees to take ownership of their own work and decide how they will complete their tasks, without slipping into increased scrutiny and incapacitating their autonomy.
Avoid unpleasant conversations
Bringing up negative feedback or unpleasant conversations does not have to equate to an aggressive confrontation. While some may be tempted to avoid these discussions or conceal feedback in passive-aggressive communications under the guise of humour, the inability to communicate to reset expectations, provide constructive feedback and align on corrective steps will result in amplified damage, compounding a series of small issues that could otherwise, be mitigated.
Forget to celebrate achievements, as well as focusing on areas of progress
Providing feedback to help employees improve on their weak areas is essential to development. However, this should not be the only dynamic at play as a constant focus on betterment can lead to employee disengagement and demotivation. Praising team members for their hard work, acknowledging their successes, and celebrating their achievements will foster a more positive work environment, boost employee confidence, and in turn lead to better performance.
In these times of accrued uncertainty, employees are constantly adjusting - to organisations restructurings, shifts between remote/hybrid/in-person working, fluctuating workloads etc… Establishing solid employee communication is essential to keep people connected to the organisation and help them anticipate and navigate the near-constant changes.
For additional help and advice in optimising your own employee communication, do not hesitate to contact Reputation Inc.