Communication in an office environment can be a tricky concept to master. It is very easy to misinterpret what someone says or cause offence by a difference in communication techniques. The increase in communicating through emails can mean that messages are misinterpreted due to a lack of background knowledge, the tone of voice and the body language which can really help with communication. When communication is poor in an office environment, it can have a significant impact on team morale, reducing work productivity and causing unnecessary divides within teams and across departments. It is important for a business to have a communication strategy, so all employees know the tone of the company and the preferred style and method of communication. Want to improve the communication in your office? Here are ten top tips to help your office communicate effectively.
- Favour face to face
Without a doubt, email is an important tool in communication. Email allows speedier interaction, gives an audit trail and allows you communicate without being required to be in the same space. However, emails do not carry tone and sentiment well, if it’s possible to speak to someone face to face then why send a faceless email? You can establish a personal relationship with your colleague, and it can pay dividends in building your network.
- Respecting culture
It is important for businesses and employees to be sensitive to cultural differences. Companies need to learn to be inclusive of all cultures, to ensure that communication channels are respectful. Cultural sensitivity training can be beneficial to improving communication and work relationships.
- Be clear and direct
Workplace communication issues are often caused by ambiguity. When delegating jobs, or asking groups of people to complete a task, often the fault of this not being delivered correctly is down to ambiguity of what’s been asked and who is responsible. It is import to be clear and concise at this stage and then follow-up to ensure everyone fully understands their task and what is expected from them.
- Use social intranet
Social intranets can be a wealth of information. Intranets can control and share company documents (policies and handbooks), allow access to different departments and engage employees in interesting work-based communication threads. If there are suggestions you would like to share or a place to bounce ideas, a social intranet can be a relaxed and informal method to converse with your colleagues.
- Introduce an open-door policy
If you sit in a solitary office or a room with only a handful of colleagues with a closed door, it may come across to others that you are unapproachable. Your colleagues may feel they cannot share their problems or raise issues with you. By keeping your door open, people will be confident to enter and will hopefully allow for a more collaborative workplace.
- Team Building
If communication and engagement within your team is low, it may be worth rebuilding the relationships and forging friendships in a teamwork task that is outside of the office environment. This can be beneficial in improving morale and boosting team-mates confidence.
- Employee and engagement surveys are not just for managers
If the latest employee survey has shown negative results in teamwork and communication, it is not just up to the manager to solve the issues. Use these scores to be proactive and have a team meeting to discuss the results. Once you understand all of your team’s issues, not just your own, you can take this to top management for a comprehensive and well-balanced discussion to pave a new way forward.
Ask and learn
People prefer to communicate in different ways, while you might like face to face conversations a colleague might prefer an email. By checking out your teams preferred communication strategy, you can engage with the right people in their favoured way and improve your work relationships.
- Give people your attention
It is important to be polite and considerate in all aspects of life. When someone wants to talk to you or has something to present, give them your time and your ears. If you are distracted by your phone, you are not giving your full attention, you may miss key information and will come across as rude. Remember to treat people the way you want to be treated for a great workplace relationship.
10. Be open to water cooler conversations
Whether you’re an employee or manager, you should be open to discussing a non-work related topic. This will help you to understand your colleagues, their beliefs, and interests. Informal chats are an important part of building workplace relationships and expanding networks across the business.