Communication in the workplace isn’t just about how well you work with others. It’s about building relationships, minimising errors and working together effectively as a team.
Encouraging good communication habits throughout the workplace can be one of the most crucial things you do as a leader. Because ultimately, it’s about working together to achieve a common goal, and poor communication can be hugely costly for your business.
In fact, according to a study commissioned by Mitel, poor communications tools could cost UK businesses over £7,500 per employee every year.
So, what effective communication skills can you advocate in your workplace, and how do you do it?
What is effective workplace communication?
Effective communication occurs when a message is sent and received accurately. Just because you believe you are communicating ideas and information properly in your organisation does not necessarily mean communication is effective.
Good communication can boost team collaboration and lead to better project collaboration. This applies to practically every industry.
Workplace communication is important for streamlining team collaboration and internal communication. Maintaining effective communication ensures that management and their direct reports are on the same page. That means that employees are confident with the work at hand, and managers are assured that team members are correctly undertaking that work.
But remember, workplace communication and business communication are different. Both are important to a company’s success going forward.
What are good communication skills to have?
Whether you are an enterprise or a small business, having good communication from top to bottom is essential. Part of having good communication is understanding a “shared meaning.” This refers to the real information being understood by each party involved, using words that mean the same to everyone, especially when it’s industry-specific terminology.
Even managers can have a hard time communicating. This is evident in an Interact survey that asked employers how they feel about communicating with their employees. The graph below demonstrates how managers feel in certain situations with employees:
A staggering 69% of managers are uncomfortable when communicating in general. Not even when delivering difficult news or offering feedback. This suggests that communication is lax and possibly even avoided altogether across many workplaces, which could be hugely impacting businesses.
This has to change.
As a business leader, you need to analyse how you communicate in the workplace in order to see where you can improve. Then, you can develop a strong communication strategy for everyone to work from, making it as easy as possible for teams to have a general work-related chat, as well as those more difficult conversations.
5 ways to improve communication in the workplace
1. Use regular meetings to listen to your team
It sounds simple, but it’s often not practised enough. Active listening is arguably the most important communication skill you can have. If you find you’ve got the tendency to talk over others, then try to be more patient, especially if you’re the boss.
When employees feel like they’re being listened to, they feel more valued and appreciated, and this creates a more collaborative culture. It also gives you a chance to understand any issues or concerns about a task from an employee’s perspective. Simply listening effectively could improve your team’s overall efficiency, accuracy and employee engagement.
2. Keep communications brief and clear
Speak to any successful business manager and they’ll all mention that time is their most important asset. When discussions are dragged out, not only can this dilute the importance of the message, but it can also over-complicate it. Keep your communication brief and to the point.
3. Re-state and clarify important information
Don’t presume the other person understands what you’re saying. Similarly, don’t be afraid to speak up if you need clarity on something. Asking questions can help you to gain a better understanding of certain situations, and you should always be encouraging your employees to ask you if they’re unsure.
Not only can this improve relations with employees, but it can also help to minimise errors. Sometimes a simple question to double-check can save mistakes from happening.
4. Understand and hone your communication style
In order to give your team a consistent working experience and your customers a smoother journey, you need to refine your communication style. Perhaps you like to schedule a call and then follow up with some meeting notes. On the other hand, maybe you prefer to video call and catch up with a phone call later on down the line. Either way, you need to make an effort to establish a routine, so your colleagues and clients know what to expect.
This also refers to the frequency of communication. If you respond a minute after your client contacts you, then they’re going to become accustomed to that high level of communication, which you may not always be able to deliver.
5. Stay open-minded
Open-mindedness is another good communication skill to have. It allows you to enter a conversation free of judgement or preconceived ideas, giving the person speaking the confidence to explain new ideas that could potentially benefit the business.
If you’re quick to shut things down, then employees will be less inclined to tell you their ideas. Your conversations will be less honest and less productive because of this. By keeping an open mind, you’re willing to enter into a dialogue with someone whose opinion you may not agree with, and you may surprise yourself by the end of it.
5 helpful communication tools for the workplace
Effective workplace communication means nothing if you do not have the right tools to help foster teamwork. Now more than ever, many teams have adopted hybrid working or fully remote working, meaning less face-to-face interaction in the physical office environment. There are many communication tools that businesses can use to help with better communication.
Here are the top tools your business needs to communicate better with co-workers.
1. Video conferencing
With the workplace environment becoming more flexible, many employees choose to work from home. But this doesn’t mean they should miss out on team meetings. They want to see body language, facial expressions, eye contact and everything else that you’d pick up on from face-to-face communication.
That’s where video calling comes in. With video calling, you can effectively communicate with employees who are working remotely while still offering the experience of being in a meeting.
2. Team messaging
Team messaging can be one of the main ways that coworkers communicate when they’re out on the move or working remotely. Although messaging isn’t always used as the number one means of communication, it can be greatly beneficial alongside video or phone calls.
When it comes to managing remotely, messaging is often needed after a phone call to recap what was said – a good idea when you want to ensure your employee has understood everything. It can also be quicker than typing out an email and leaves less room for miscommunication, as any queries can be quickly and efficiently cleared up.
3. Phone calls
It may sound old-fashioned, but every company needs a reliable phone system to communicate with clients and co-workers. You could need a business phone to hop on a quick call with a colleague, or need a centralised number for customers and clients to call in order to get a problem resolved.
Phones allow for voicemails to be left and easy access to a customer service representative.
As with video conferencing, webinars have become hugely important as a means of communicating to a group of participants. With webinars, businesses of all sizes can host training, AGM meetings, and deliver pitches and presentations for a remote audience.
With webinars, presenters can communicate with a wider audience, record their sessions, and enable or disable their participants’ microphones in accordance with their webinar content. RingCentral’s flexible and collaborative features allows presenters full control over the security of their webinar, and the level of audience participation as needed.
Emails are a popular way to communicate in an office from peer-to-peer or B2B. However, as times have moved on and people are becoming more proficient in using video calling software and cloud phone systems, emails are used less and less often.
As per our earlier graph, 16% of managers said they feel uncomfortable speaking face-to-face rather than via email. Considering communication is better understood when verbal and face-to-face, this is a worrying statistic. As a leader, you have to be confident in non-verbal communication, especially when it comes to employees.
Why is communication important?
As a business leader, being an effective communicator at work is vital. One of the best ways you can improve communication within your company is to invest in the best communication tools. This includes cloud-based communication and collaboration software.
The right software can enable your employees to communicate quickly and effectively, especially if they’re working remotely. As you’ve seen, video conferencing and phone calls can allow you to stay connected, no matter where you are. This, and having a comprehensive suite of communication tools at your fingertips, could supercharge your workplace communication, enhancing your relationships with colleagues, partners and clients alike. Try out our free product demo today and find out why we’re a leading provider of cloud-based communications.
Originally published Feb 06, 2023, updated Feb 14, 2023