Proper communication at work plays an essential role in each and every responsibility you have as a leader. From building relationships, to conflict management, to explaining clear objectives, to delivering tough feedback. Communication is king. When you add remote work into the mix, effective communication is even more fundamental to keeping employees engaged and aligned.
To help you improve the quality and frequency of communication with and on your team, we put together these tips to become a better communicator and foster a more communication-friendly environment.
Effective virtual communication, particularly video conferencing, is obviously essential if your entire team is working remotely. But it will remain critical as you begin to transition back to working in the office. There’s a good chance many employees will still work remotely at least part of the time in the months ahead.
Even when some of your employees return to the office, you can’t relax your efforts to help everyone stay connected. Continuing to make all key meetings virtual is one option. If a meeting must be held on-site, promptly fill in off-site staff on any decisions made pertaining to their projects.
The ability to listen actively to employees is the mark of a good manager. If you’re the one who’s doing all the talking, all the time, then you can’t tune in. And it’s more vital than ever that your team members know they are heard and that you take their concerns and questions seriously.
Don’t assume you know exactly what your workers are feeling. Check in on them individually, asking questions and then listening with an empathetic ear.What does it mean to listen actively? It means truly focusing on the individual’s words rather than silently formulating a response while they’re speaking to you. During video meetings, take note of nonverbal cues. In short, give the other person your full attention.
Managers who call meetings with their teams may be facing a problem, or they might just have information to share. Regardless which is the case, focusing on reaching goals should be the objective of the message. Although examining what went wrong will surely have to be part of the discussion, it is not constructive to point fingers.
The message should always be about presenting solutions in the future and creating actionable items to help the team avoid the same problems in the future. This can lead to a discussion about other possible snafus and how to prepare for them. Again, staying on-message is the best way to get through tough meetings.
Brevity is a virtue that successful communicators nurture. In order to keep statements short and keep a team engaged, a concise message is vital. Managers have to resist the urge to tell anecdotes or stories they feel are related but might not actually be helpful. By staying on topic and avoiding tangents, there is a higher likelihood that employees will understand and be ready to take action. If it helps, managers can also ask team members to give a brief recap of what they understand to be the key outcome of the discussion
The option for anonymous feedback is crucial for effective workplace communication. Sometimes, employees won’t share feedback with their managers because they are hesitant about making a complaint, or divulging their feelings openly. While we’re all for transparency and vulnerability, the option for anonymity facilitates the process of sharing more difficult sentiments, which are key insights for managers.
Ultimately, effective communication leads to engaged employees. It helps them understand what’s going on in the company and what’s expected of them. It helps build relationships, have tough talks, and successfully tackle problems as they come. It removes the ambiguity that can be unnecessarily stressful, and that ambiguity is only compounded when working remotely. Communication is the thread that ties through all successful teams!