There really is no “I” In team. In order to put out high-quality work and keep everyone on your team motivated and happy, you all have to be on the same page. Workplace miscommunication can mean missing deadlines, a drop in quality, or drawn-out conflicts that make everyone a little uncomfortable.
As a manager or team leader, it’s your responsibility to make sure that communication is strong across your entire team. If it’s not, that’s something you’ll want to improve right away. Here are a few tips for improving communication in the workplace.
How often do you check in with your staff one-on-one? If you only hold weekly team meetings, you could be missing opportunities to strengthen your communication. Consider penciling in monthly meetings with each individual member of your team.
In these meetings, they can speak their mind freely, airing potential concerns and asking questions. You can discuss priorities and problem-solving for any issues they might have. You can also gauge their satisfaction with their work. Another reason to hold these meetings is to notice any patterns among individuals. If multiple team members bring up the same issue, it may be a larger problem that needs to be addressed.
However, those team meetings are also essential. You should be having weekly team meetings. They should happen at the same time each week for consistency’s sake, if your work schedule allows. In these meetings, you can go over your progress. Celebrate any team wins and bring up issues that need to be addressed. Then talk about next steps. Finally, allow your team members to chime in with their thoughts and feelings. Discussing business as a team will help to strengthen the feeling that you’re really all in this together.
Taking notes is a great way to ensure that everyone remembers the important points of the weekly team meetings. Of course, as manager, you’re probably leading the meeting which can make it difficult to take notes. Consider choosing a member of your team to take notes. If it’s not a job that anyone particularly wants, you could rotate who takes notes each meeting. Hang those notes on a corkboard or put them somewhere that the whole team can see them. This will help to make sure everyone stays on track.
If there was one thing we all hated hearing from our parents growing up, it was “Because I said so.” As people, we want to know why we’re being made to do things. Your team members are the same. If you expect them to do their jobs simply “because I said so,” you can bet they probably won’t do them well. Even if they do a good job, they probably won’t feel good about it.
You can only benefit from explaining why your team is doing what you’re doing. It ensures that you’re all on the same page and helps them feel included. Explaining the why is absolutely essential to having good communication in the workplace.
One issue that constantly stymies workplace communication is employees feeling unsafe to ask questions or communicate what they think or feel. Employees may feel that being honest could put their job at risk or that they would be criticized for asking a “stupid” question. If there is any part of your management style that could be adding to this anxiety, cut it out. Instead, focus on creating a safe space to communicate.
Allow your employees to voice their ideas or criticism without fear of being punished for doing so. Of course, those things should be communicated professionally. But don’t simply punish an employee for questioning a decision of yours. Make sure that you welcome all questions and don’t treat any question as “stupid.”
Just like team members should give their feedback professionally, you as a manager should take care how you give feedback. If you yell at or harshly criticize an employee every time they make a mistake, they’re not going to feel comfortable communicating any future mistakes to you.
Your feedback should be based on solutions. Don’t make any judgments of the person or assume what they were thinking. Instead, ask questions and provide feedback that will help to solve the issue in the future. Your feedback should feel less like “here are all the ways you messed up,” and more like “here’s what you can do next time to improve.” This will boost your employee’s confidence in their work and their trust in you.