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Effective Communication in the Workplace

effective_communication
Written by Charlotte - 02 Aug 2018 Category: HR news

We know that effective communication in the workplace is a good thing.

We know that effective communication in the workplace is a good thing. With clear communication, productivity increases, employee conflicts reduce and customer relationships improve. With all these positive side effects, how can HR managers encourage effective communication at work?

What exactly is effective communication?

There’s more to communication than merely making eye contact and talking frequently. The type of words we use and the tone in which we use them can have a significant impact on changing the meaning of what we say.

For example, think about a situation where a staff member has made a mistake that has cost the business and caused extra work for their team. Errors of this kind are something that a good leader would want to address. But the way in which the leader discusses the issue can have a significant impact on how the employee receives the information.

Consider the statements below:

 

  • I am angry that you made this mistake

  • I’m concerned that this mistake happened

  • This mistake happened. What do you think went wrong? What can we learn from it?

 

Each addresses the mistake but the meaning conveyed is very different. The first statement is confrontational, the second is indirect, and the third is more collaborative and constructive. We can see, then, how tone and word choice can make such a difference to communication and influence future behaviour.

Tips for more effective communication  

 

  1. Meet Face to face: Organise face-to-face meetings where possible, especially if you have something challenging to discuss. It’s easy to misinterpret emails and almost impossible to read tone. It may be more time consuming to meet face to face, but it’s a much better way of connecting with colleagues and more likely to produce a positive outcome, even if you’re meeting to discuss sensitive issues.

  2. Create a receptive, open atmosphere: Staff need to know that their opinion is valued. Make sure there are clear channels of communication for staff to ask questions (without fear of being judged incompetent), provide feedback of their working environment and HR experience, and know that they have someone to talk with if any issues arise.

  3. Experiment with different communication channels: It’s easy for people to disengage, mainly if they are expected to read long, dry policy updates on top of an already overflowing inbox. Mix it up a bit and keep staff engaged by communicating to them in different ways. Try weekly round-up meetings, fun social media posts, data visualisations or eye-catching emails to get your message across.

  4. Encourage communication within teams: It’s not just managers that need to know how to communicate effectively. Good communications within teams boost productivity and help to create a more positive work environment. Activities and team socials outside of work can help teams to get to know one another better and feel more comfortable communicating more openly with one another.

It’s evident that fostering effective communication in the workplace is beneficial for both managers and employees. Although it may take some effort to establish a culture of healthy communication, it can make a real difference to the employee experience and positive work outcomes.  

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CiviHR is a project to create affordable HR software for non-profit organisations. By developing open source technology the benefits can be shared with non-profits everywhere. 

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