5 Steps to Better Employee Communications
by Brad Egeland
Good communication in your small business improves employee productivity, keeps everyone working towards the same goals, and reduces office drama and misunderstandings. Take these five steps to improve communication with your employees.
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Communications in the workplace can be mind numbing... or it can mean everything. Of course the water cooler fodder can be the mind numbing part – as can be the overly comfortable and overly friendly employee who has a tendency to stop in your office several times a day to just sit down and chat. They’re good workers, so you’re not about to fire them, but they stop in at the most inopportune times bringing your current productivity level to a halt. Ugh.
We’ve talked about the negatives... now let’s consider the positives. Good communication among the small business staff can lead to a more cohesive and cooperative work environment. Employees who are "in the loop" feel more ownership, feel like they know what’s going on, are more likely to know what’s expected of them on a daily basis, and will feel more comfortable coming to you early with any issues they may be concerned about. So how do we nurture this type of environment? How do we make our SMB one with a nice flow of ongoing communication where people feel comfortable sharing relevant information and know what they should be doing at any given moment? Following these five steps will likely help.
#1 – Hold weekly "team" meetings
Frequent communication is important. Just as I hold weekly internal team meetings as a project manager, individuals leading small businesses should be having internal "team" meetings with their employees. This will keep everyone in the loop as to what’s going on, what the latest promotions are, any issues or concerns that are outstanding, and it gives everyone a chance to talk and ask questions.
#2 – Send out a weekly communication via email
Just like the first item above on holding weekly team meetings, at least one general weekly, and more formal, email communication should probably be sent out. This can serve as a follow-up to the weekly employee meeting and act as a sort of "status report."
#3 – Have monthly one on one’s with each employee
This is something I wish my managers had done with me and something I always try to do for my direct employees. Monthly one on ones means you’re never out of touch and your employees never feel you’re unapproachable. I realize in an SMB that unapproachable feeling is not as likely to happen as it is in a larger corporation, but it still can happen. Don’t take for granted that everyone is happy and feels comfortable.
#4 – Let your employees engage your most important customers
As the leader, you want to have your hands in everything. But it’s ok to pass leadership on to your employees when you know they’re ready and can represent your company well. So when you have a call or meeting or event with a top customer, look for a chance to let an employee periodically lead that or play a significant role. The employee’s confidence rises, they gain more of an ownership feeling of the situation, and you get to offload some responsibilities. Win Win.
#5 – Have a group "outing" every quarter
This can be a difficult one to pull off on a regular basis and budget limitations may be another factor, but if you can schedule some type of outing or gathering every quarter, you’ll help build a more cohesive team... .even if it’s just a potluck at an employee’s house. Doing something together away from work is always a good way to build better employee relations and keep communication going strong.
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Brad Egeland is a Business Solution Designer and IT/PM consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience
leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. Brad is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad's site at www.bradegeland.com.