Do your employees secretly hate the communication techniques you’re currently using?
According to a study by Root, Inc., more than half of employees surveyed have felt frustrated and unhappy about work. Whether that unhappiness results in absenteeism, low productivity, dissatisfaction or disengagement, poor organizational communication is likely a root cause.
Trying to pick up on the subtle signs that your communication processes aren’t working for your employees can be difficult. If you’ve noticed any of the warning signs below, it’s possible your organizational communication style needs a revamp:
Warning sign: Your employees appear overwhelmed and productivity is down.
Solution: This is likely a result of “information overload.” With too many responsibilities or tasks, and too little direction from leadership on main priorities, employees can feel bogged down. As a result, they often shut down.
Managers must understand their teams’ projects and workload at all times, and be empowered to advocate for them if their reports have too much on their proverbial plates. This way, employees will get realistic tasks and immediately know their priorities. Providing project management software or something as simple as a prioritized list can help with expectations and allow your employees to get to work on the most important tasks right away.
Warning sign: Employees are noticeably less engaged.
Solution: Try being flexible and intuitive in the way you communicate by carefully considering the situation, as well as individual communication preferences.
For instance, there may be times when a simple email with a bulleted list of takeaways is sufficient. Other times, you may need to have a face-to-face discussion to allow for questions and to ensure all priorities and explanations are thoroughly understood.
Emails and other forms of written communication lose tone and nonverbal cues that would otherwise help people better understand your meaning. If there are a lot of misunderstood conversations happening in the office, require in-person meetings until your team can better communicate with each other via email.
Warning sign: Deadlines are being missed and work is suffering.
Solution: Most likely, this is a direct result of unclear goals and expectations. An employee cannot be expected to perform well if they aren’t completely clear about what they’re working toward and why. Set clear goals, and ensure expectations surrounding those goals are understood from the start.
Also, align your culture and environment with the goals you’ve set. For instance, if your company is innovative and forward-thinking and all the goals require employees to bring new ideas to the table, celebrate smart risks and establish a workflow that supports innovation and experimentation by being accepting of failure.
Warning sign: The office feels quiet and withdrawn. Your employees aren’t approaching leadership with questions and ideas. It seems as though they do their jobs only to collect a paycheck.
Solution: Employees may feel as though they cannot voice questions or ideas. A culture that does not foster curiosity or willingness to share is bound to fail.
Promote an open door culture that helps employees feel more welcome to pop into their supervisor’s office to ask questions or share ideas. At ClearCompany, we have had great success with weekly office hours, during which employees are encouraged to chat with leadership, ask questions and pitch ideas.
Boxes for employees to anonymously add ideas and issues they’re experiencing is also a great idea, as well as using an image or time during internal meetings to share and display public goals, give updates, and share kudos to those doing a great job.
You also want to make sure employees feel they are heard and all their concerns or questions have been adequately addressed with follow-up. Putting together a process within your organization similar to the ones mentioned above that encourages questions and ideas, but doesn’t follow through on any of them, is a complete waste of everyone’s time.
Warning sign: Employees are doing very little that goes beyond their job responsibilities to better the company.
Solution: According to another study by Root, Inc., only 43% of workers say they feel accountable for their company’s revenue, profit, or growth. This is staggering considering the important role they play in a company’s growth and revenue.
Create ways to provide employees with adequate feedback on their work and help to foster a culture in which employees feel rewarded for their contributions. To do this, introduce a monetary or perk-based reward system that gives employees the opportunity to see first-hand the cost savings or revenue streams they help create with their ideas. An informal lunch between employees and their supervisors is also a great way to provide feedback on where they’re excelling, and where they need to improve.
Take some time to identify any possible communication techniques that need to be revamped within your organization. Once you’ve identified them, begin to implement processes and culture changes in order to increase productivity and employee engagement within your organization. This will ultimately lead to growth and success for the company.
Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the first talent-alignment platform that bridges the gap between talent management and business strategy by contextualizing employees’ work around a company’s vision and goals. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.