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workplace communication tips

6 Techniques: Improve The Way Your Employees Communicate

When your team works in the same building, it’s easy to get to know one another. Since you see each other every day, you’ll likely develop a deeper than surface level relationship based on proximity alone. You might come to know how your colleagues take their coffee, and maybe even buddy up with them when the company heads out on a retreat or outing. However, if the majority of your team works remotely, it can be difficult to maintain a culture of free-flowing communication. Here are six ways to ensure your colleagues have the means to effectively communicate.

  1. Stay up to Date

If your team is geographically dispersed, you might find yourself waking up in the morning to an inbox overflowing with new messages. This could contribute to missing out on important information as a crucial call to action might be buried beneath the newest messages in your inbox. Instead of relying on email as the sole source of communication, try using a good chat program to connect with your team in real time. This will help ensure that conversations are focused on the most important initiatives and allow any disconnection amongst the team to be addressed immediately.

  1. Use Emoji

It might sound unprofessional, but emoji can help improve communication. This is because the written word does not effectively communicate tone and emotion. However, using emoji in conjunction with a well-thought-out statement can inform the reader of intent, helping to avoid misunderstandings.

  1. Know When to Step Back

Try implementing a culture in which “doing” is as important as “brainstorming”. By allowing your team the opportunity to assess the necessity of their personal involvement amongst the larger group, you are allowing members of your team to step back from meetings and focus on tangible deliverables as needed. By instituting this team-wide, colleagues can work offline knowing another member of their team will fill them in if anything important arises in the meeting they missed. 

  1. Use Online Meetings

Using online conferencing tools can help get to the root of an issue much more expediently than a flurry of emails. They’re easy to use and your entire team can get together in the same (virtual) room. It’s very effective for communication, as you can see each other’s body language (which helps inform the tone and emotion behind a statement in the same way emoji do).

  1. Use the Right Form of Communication

Email is not always the best way to discuss an important subject with your team. Try giving them a call, inviting them to a chat room, or organizing an online meeting. Before reaching out, ask yourself, what is the best communication method for what I need to tell them? Are you kicking-off a major department initiative? Perhaps an all-hands conference call is in order. Are you checking in with a solitary employee about an overdue deliverable? A brief IM might suffice. Whatever it is you might be discussing, make sure the form matches the intent.

  1. Set Clear Expectations

While having multiple channels of communication to unite a workforce spread out across multiple time zones has allowed for a greater sense of corporate interconnectivity, these advancements have made it somewhat difficult for your team to know how and when you prefer to work. If you’re the type of person that limits email correspondence to working hours, say so. If you’d like finished work uploaded to the team Dropbox rather than sent as an attachment, tell your team.  By being clear about your expectations as to how and when you prefer to work, it makes everyone’s jobs easier.

Online Tools to Improve Communication

A portion of your team might already be working remotely, so you might be familiar with some of the online tools listed below. However, technological advancements addressing the gamut of communication issues are being developed every day, so there might be some tools you may not have seen:

  • Flow Dock: This tool gives your team one place for both casual and work chats. There’s a search feature that helps you find the specific task you were discussing, and a one-on-one chat for when you need to contact just one member of your team. The best part is you can try it free for 30 days.
  • Boom Essays: Your outgoing messages should be proofread, but you might not have time to do it yourself. This service could be the answer. Send them your messages and they’ll proofread any correspondence before you send it.
  • Uber Conference: Online conferencing can be a pain, but this tool makes it easy. You can track attendees, share your screen and easily share documents—all from an extremely intuitive interface.
  • Write My Essay: The primary form of your departmental communications will likely be email, so good email writing skills are essential. However, you might feel that yours aren’t up to scratch. Get in touch with an expert writer from this service. They’ll help you refine your email skills to better articulate exactly what it is you need.
  • Word Counter: If a message is too long, the recipient might tune out before you’ve made your main point. This tool makes it easy to keep things short and sweet. All you have to do is paste your writing in, and you’ll get a quick and accurate word count.
  • MikoGo: This screen sharing app is perfect if you want to share information, quickly. There’s no need to download a program; everything is done through the web app. You can even join for free, making it as cost effective as you can get.
  • Assignment Help: If you’re having trouble articulating specific needs within written communication, then it might make sense for you to get in touch with this writing service. They can help you with your business writing skills. Work with them, and you’ll see vast improvement in your writing skills.
  • Paper Fellows: Good grammar is the cornerstone of all good writing. Without it, your messages will be incomprehensible. This writing community can help you improve your grammar, making your communications much easier to understand.
  • Calendly: This is the easiest way to arrange meetings. You simply give the site your schedule, then email a link to the person you’re meeting. They pick a time they can meet you, and then the meeting is arranged. That’s it!

Give these tips and tools a try. You’ll find it’s much easier to communicate with your team, and you’ll get a lot more done.

To learn more about how Achievers builds alignment across its entire organization for both onsite and remote employees, check out the blog post To the Point: How Achievers Builds Alignment Across the Organization.

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About the Author
Mary WaltonMary Walton is an editor at Australian assignment writing service. She also helps online businesses to find passionate remote workers; and creates awesome resumes at Resumention. Mary has an educational blog Simple Grad, there you can find useful info on college life and college tips.

 

 

 

 

Effectively Navigate Organizational Change

Understanding Change and Its Impact on Engagement

Change is a funny thing, isn’t it? We frequently resist it, yet progress is impossible without it. In fact, we can’t really move through life without it. The desired approach for most of us is to experience change in small, bite-size chunks. Otherwise, it can wreak havoc on us when there’s too much at once and we’re not prepared for it.

As HR and OD professionals and people leaders, how can we help employees with the process of change? How can we best position ourselves to lead and at the same time guide employees to think more rationally about change? After all, employee resistance is one of the leading causes for the failure of change initiatives (Bovey & Hede, 2001b; Waldersee & Griffiths, 1996). According to Cynthia Wittig, “Such findings indicate that change agents focusing on employee reactions—including resistance and acceptance—during organizational change is of utmost importance to the success of the initiative.”

How do we help eliminate the resistance? Where should your change-agent-leaders focus their efforts? Start with these three tips.

1) Address the emotions first by answering the hard questions upfront, including addressing, why?

We are persuaded by reason, but we are moved by emotion.  Acknowledge what employees may be feeling. You don’t necessarily have to answer for it, but you can acknowledge it and lead from the front by demonstrating authenticity and optimism in response. Acknowledging and naming the feelings helps create distance between a person and a situation. It creates a moment of objectivity. Instead of, “I am afraid,” they can at last get to, “I feel afraid about what Mr. Jones shared during town hall and how it might affect my department.” It also helps those of us who may have a hard time defining how we’re feeling, to make sense of why our hearts start racing, or we get sweaty palms, or feel unsettled in response to certain news.  If you have a tough change coming up – call it what it is and help employees understand why the organization needs to head in that particular direction. Our brains don’t like incomplete stories and in the absence of information, we can come to all sorts of crazy conclusions. These concocted conclusions can spin FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) out of control into a danger tornado that is likely to pick up your change initiative and spit it out in the Land of Oz.

2) Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Oh, did I mention? Communicate.

The amount and quality of information that is communicated to employees can influence how those employees will react (Wanberg & Banas, 2000). Running today’s ever-evolving organizations takes a lot of heavy lifting. It requires people-leaders and executives to be clear on the changes that are occurring and why those changes are taking place. AND it requires intentional multi-touch communications about said changes with all employees. Cynthia Witting shares, “There are several communication processes that impact employees’ reactions, including frequency, mode, content, and flow of communication. Gray and Laidlaw (2002) argued that the more embedded these processes are within management, the more effective the outcomes are because they enhance the quality of working relationships, harmony, and trust.” Sending out 1-2 emails about a change really isn’t enough. Ideally, there is a real-time, always-on, cross-functional, organization-wide conversation about these topics so that everyone can weigh-in equally and ask questions with transparency and without fear. This method should also provide communication scalability. In the absence of such a system, there needs to be on-going fireside chats or other means for employees to submit questions and expect real, authentic answers.

3) Employee participation in decision making.

According to an Aon Hewitt research study, the number one driver of employee engagement during times of change is the ability to be involved in decision making.  However, you might be thinking – if I ask them what they want or what their thoughts are, am I opening a proverbial can of worms? The reality is yes, initially it will require more work, but the outcomes of increased success and higher engagement are well worth the trouble. In fact, there’s a whole body of research available with a documented approach to making wide-spread change while engaging the whole team. It’s called Appreciative Inquiry. As opposed to the typical deficit-based mindset where everything is a problem to solve, the approach focuses on inquiries into the organization based upon what is working and what we want to do more of so that the team naturally moves in that direction. When folks have a voice – they feel heard and acknowledged. This is fundamental to creating and maintaining highly engaged employees. Particularly, in times of change.

The ongoing need for change presents a tricky situation when it comes to employee engagement. While leading organizational change, you must be able to rally the troops’ ongoing support and understanding. Too much top down change at once can result in disengaged employees, which equates to a loss in productivity. When your next major change happens across your organization, consider my top three tips to help eliminate resistance and gain support.

Perhaps Buckminster Fuller said it best. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”.

How has your organization effectively navigated change? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

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About the Author
Leigh BurgerLeigh joined the Achievers Professional Services team in June 2014 She serves as a trusted advisor to HR executives, professionals and business partners for the Achievers Fortune 500 global brands in rolling out their Employee Engagement platform. She holds a Masters, Positive Organizational Development & Change from Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University as well as several relevant certifications. You can check out her full profile here.