In any workplace, there are going to be communication problems. From small miscommunications (which may not be all that small if the ball gets dropped between departments) to full-blown arguments between colleagues, workplace communication is inevitably going to have its pitfalls. To keep your workplace running smoothly, communication needs to be a high priority. Here are a few ways to improve your company’s communication skills, as well as your own.
Have an HR Department
Many small companies and startups think that an HR department is an extra expense, and not really necessary. Initially, it may not be, but there will come a time when it is, particularly as your company grows. Every company needs at least one person in charge of Human Resources – not just the hiring and firing, but also disputes between employees and any problems employees might have.
Knowing who to go to when issues arise will make your employees far more comfortable in the workplace. The person in charge of HR needs to be diplomatic so that they can resolve conflicts with as little bias as possible. They also need to be easy to talk to and impartial, even when a situation is uncomfortable.
Equip Your Employees
Give your employees the tools they need to communicate effectively. Many companies hold regular harassment seminars to make sure their employees are aware what behavior, and what sort of comments, are and are not appropriate. While these sometimes can be counterproductive, they are useful in educating employees about harassment disputes between employees, as well as other valuable skills. Use these seminars to make sure your employees know when to ask questions, and when to bring something up with management.
Polls and Progress Reports
There’s plenty of software available to help you keep tabs on your workforce. Slack polls are a quick and easy to make and can be used for just about anything. They can be used to find out how your employees feel they’re coping with their workload, how they feel about certain policies or changes, or whether they feel issues need to be addressed. Weekly progress reports can also be useful in making sure your staff knows what they’re doing, are getting things done, and aren’t overworked or underworked. Both of these will drastically reduce the need for meetings, though they still play an essential role in opening a regular line of communication.
Most people dread meetings, so they’re rarely as effective as they otherwise might be. Weekly staff meetings probably aren’t necessary, but you should still check in with your employees regularly. Make sure the meetings you do have are worth everybody’s time who is involved. When you do have meetings, use the time productively to communicate any changes, address issues, and let your employees know that you are aware of the goings-on, and that you care. It may not always be ideal to bring up new issues, but let everyone know that if they bring things up, they will be addressed.
Finally, discourage gossip, and encourage everyone to address their colleagues directly if ever they are offended, or feel they may have misinterpreted something that was said. Open communication is the best policy in any environment where people spend a lot of time together.