7 steps to create open communication in your business
Reading the blog “The Importance of Open Communication in the Workplace” from Career Partners International originally got me thinking about this topic and I agree with all the points. Parts of this post has been gathered from them then expanded upon a bit. As I started at TelSpan, Inc at the end of March 2016, I was able to bring in my experience from 12.5 years at Google, Inc. and am continuing to help build an open communication environment.
Operating on a need-to-know basis is a costly choice for businesses. Creating an atmosphere of open communication contributes to a more vibrant, creative workforce allows employees to be more engaged and understand that what they do matters in the success of the business. Making sure your employees conceive the big picture and the part they play in the success of the organization will help them better understand why decisions are made and how those decisions impact them specifically as well as the company as a whole. Effective communication leads everyone to be on the same page; moving in the same direction toward the same goal.
- Open Communication starts with a commitment from the top. Ensure that all managers are committed to open communication, and understands what it means in your organization. Be visible and available to employees. Evaluate the systems of communication and ensure that processes are in place that allows for vital information to be communicated regularly throughout the business.
- Make your communication process transparent. Hold open-ended meetings that give each team member the opportunity to share concerns, accomplishments and ideas. Ensure the regularity of the meetings and continue to improve them with the feedback. Set clear expectations for all work tasks and what you expect employee behavior to be. Avoid springing surprises on your staff when it comes to what they are expected to do. At TelSpan we do this in a weekly Friday Huddle sharing the progress of projects and business information every week at the same time each week.
- Keep your message positive. Motivate employees by pointing out accomplishments and exemplary work. State messages concerning what needs to be done and what is being done well rather than what should not be done or what is being done poorly. However, there is also a balance sharing the negative or poor performing areas. Open communication is not just talk about the positives but also address the negatives and elephants in the room and learning from those, but you can do it in a positive way. “We are sunsetting this product now because of what we learned, and we are taking this knowledge into now building these things better.”
- Establish a disagreement system through which employees can make complaints in a protected manner. Give complaints or feedback serious consideration when warranted and always let employees know that they have been heard. Take action on complaints and communicate those actions to all involved parties and back to the company if necessary. If only one person speaks up, they most likely are not the only one thinking of the subject, just the only one that voiced their concern.
- Take inventory of the diversity of employees in your workplace. Always avoid using slang or jargon that might not be understood by subcultures within your place of work. Provide employees with mentors if they lack communication skills common to the greater group; example, international workers may be unfamiliar with communication techniques.
- Don’t forget about your remote employees that are in another office or work from home. Continue to get feedback from them as well as try to hold one of those open-ended meetings to the company from that location.
- The technology that delivers the message. How does your staff receive the message either onsite or remote? How many employees and offices are you trying to deliver the message to? How do you take questions from that distributed workforce? How do employees that are on leave, sick, a non-workday, get the updated information? Everyone won’t be able to attend every meeting so how do you keep them all updated on the messages they missed.
Creating an open environment leads to reduced stress, greater job satisfaction, team building, increased commitment, loyalty to your organization as well as mutual respect throughout the organization. Open communication creates a more productive work environment and a positive workplace. When everyone feels they have an impact on the company, understand their roles, and understands the goals additional ideas and energy will fill your walls.