Communication in the workplace is very important but with so many people involved, all with different personalities and varying levels of understanding - communication can be difficult and misunderstandings can arise.
Workplaces can be hectic places where messages are flying left, right and centre: that’s prime territory for miscommunication. Try to avoid that by following a few simple guidelines.
How you need to communicate in the workplace varies a little according to your job responsibilities. Those differ sometimes in whether you have responsibility for and authority over certain other staff members. How successfully you get people to follow you comes down to communication too!
Communication is vital in any workplace and here are some of the essential ingredients for good communication in the workplace:
1. Give clear instructions
You save time in the long run by taking the time to give even simple instructions clearly and make sure they are understood. Leave a pause for people to ask questions - or invite them to do so. It’s much better if a task is understood from the start rather than you having to go back and do work again because it was done wrongly the first time.
2. Be constructive, not critical
Supervisors and bosses can all too often become critical.
Often people who have tried to organize their work or solve workplace problems themselves have been severely criticized for the solution they have implemented. Is it any wonder then why they don’t bother trying to sort anything out again? That’s not an efficient way to organize a workplace.
The main trouble with this approach arises because the natural response of someone who is being criticized is to switch off and not listen. Nobody learns anything or moves on in that way.
The other side of the coin is that when employees are empowered to make some decisions themselves, managers get more time to get on with their job and progress in the business. For this to work, people need to feel safe to explore alternatives, give suggestions and ask questions.
Managers also need to make sure they ask the right questions to inspire their employees and to help them to think through solutions.
3. Let people know the ‘bigger picture’
What are you all aiming for? People will work harder and smarter if they know how the work they’re doing contributes to an end product.
4. Communicate messages effectively
Workplaces often have many people working there. Messages need to be passed on efficiently through whichever medium - face-face, telephone, e-mail etc.
If you have a message to pass on, make sure you do it accurately, to the right person - and promptly. If the message is long - type it rather than relying on your memory.
5. Give people the freedom to organize at least some of their work
If people are clear about what needs to be done, they can understand and set a list of priorities for their work. This keeps people motivated to work hard, but also, it makes them work more efficiently as they know what has to be done and can switch between tasks accordingly. There’s no need for them to stop when work has hit a snag when they can get on with another project.
6. Make expectations clear
End a conversation with something like,
“So - am I right in thinking that you think the project will be completed by the end of today?”
Then, if people anticipate a problem, they have the opportunity to tell you if there’s going to be a problem with that. That gives you the chance - and responsibility - to help them.
7. Treat people like individuals
Everyone has different needs and different personalities. Different people will react well to slightly different approaches. It’s good if you can find out what approaches work well for your colleagues and employees; that way, you will get the most out of each interaction and everyone will be happier.
It all comes down to communication skills - or lack of them. It’s completely your responsibility for making yourself understood - no matter how many times you have to try - and it’s the other person’s responsibility to let you know every time they don’t understand something: communication in the workplace relies upon it.