Communication is key in every part of life. But let’s focus on the basics of how it can work or fail in the workplace. First, it’s incredibly important to keep the lines of communication open between owners, management, and employees. Any breakdown in this line can wreak havoc on a company’s culture and its future.
Unfortunately, communication can also go in the other direction by becoming too much or inappropriate. This can happen when staff members become too close or don’t behave professionally. Things like gossip, bullying, and office secrets can get out of control and lead to discord. Here are some simple ways to make sure office communication stays solid, accurate, and professional.
Use Group Chats and Copy Others in Email
Using group chats and copying managers or supervisors in emails is a good way to keep office communication professional and quality. There will be fewer misunderstandings and you have witnesses to what was said and how it was delivered.
Set standards for the various types of communication. For example, you might have all employees contact a supervisor or manager before engaging with another employee about a significant disagreement. This keeps upper management informed about potential problems before they happen. However, you may not need this to happen if it’s something minor or a simple request for help or an opinion.
Have a Receptionist or Specific Employee Answer Calls
Having everyone in the office responsible for phone calls isn’t efficient and can lead to misunderstandings and unreceived messages. I’ve experienced this in small business settings that did not have a specific person responsible for the phones. You might even consider a call answering service if it isn’t appropriate or the time to hire someone. Either way, give the responsibility to someone and train them well to handle that part of your business.
Be an Example
Company culture and standards start with owners and upper management. It’s imperative that communication remains professional and quality from the top of the company down. People tend to mimic what they see happening around them, especially in a tight workspace.
Take time to talk to people, have regular meetings, and invite employees for a coffee in the morning to chat. All of these simple acts help you to be a better communicator and really get to know your staff. Consider this one of the most important parts of leadership and building a company that stays strong and vital.
Plan Meeting Topics
Before each team meeting, plan out what needs to be covered. Assign several people to address each topic, so it isn’t just you talking. This promotes greater teamwork and communication between managers and staff. This pre-planning also helps you and your staff stay on track and not forget important topics.
Encourage Team Events
One great way to better communication in the office is to go for lunch together. Team lunches are always a good idea and they will be a great way for you to get to know each other as people as well as team members.