Successful businesses recognise the importance of communication. It is like the engine oil in a car - it makes the business run smoothly.
You can transform your business into a can do, positive workplace - if you invest time in improving communications.
Focus on the areas below and involve your employees in this work to make real change for the better.
For a step by step approach, download our Communication Training Pack.
How does information flow in your business? It should flow freely in all directions: top down, bottom up and sideways. It should include customers and suppliers as well as employees.
Business owners may be good at sending information downwards. Yet employees often feel that their opinions are not looked for or listened to. A common statement made by employees is "They only call us in when something is going wrong."
Another common pitfall is empire building, where departments become protective of information, as if to compete with others, forgetting the bigger business picture.
Does your business recognise the importance of communication? Find out how good the flow of information is and focus on removing the blocks.
Here are some common barriers:
If there is a heavy reliance on the grapevine in your business, watch out. This creates a breeding ground for mis-information, mistrust and is ultimately bad for your business.
Another increasingly common problem is where email has become the main channel of communication. Beware! Your communication may not be effective by words alone, particularly if the topic is important or sensitive in nature. Your tone of voice and body language are important in communication. So take the time to meet, or at least phone someone, where necessary.
Do you have an open door policy? Do your employees find you approachable? Do you take the time to MBWA (manage by walking around?) Too often I hear employees say that they never see the management group. And that can't be good for business.
Many businesses today have adopted open plan offices to help communication and save costs. At the same time, make sure that there are still areas where employees can go for a private work conversation.
Are your employees told what to do, or are they involved in teamwork and decision making? Businesses have unwritten ground rules. Make sure they are not inhibiting the flow of information in your workplace.
An older workforce can feel intimidated by fast changing technology. They can often feel that their contribution is not as valued as much as their younger counterparts. Make sure they are not left behind and pay attention to their needs.
If you have employees whose first language is not the one used in your business, are you organised to accommodate this? Make sure your training and documentation systems are not a barrier to communication.
Unsure of the barriers in your organisation? a well planned employee and customer survey could provide you with the information you need.
Read our latest newsletter - Avoid the Pain of Employee Turnover - 3 Steps to Maintaining Business Performance or view our back issues for more concise tips on practical management skills.