Intra-office Communication

Every job is different and so is every employer, co-worker, and client.  It would seem that figuring out the right ways to communicate with your coworkers is a full time job in itself!

Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Oftentimes the biggest problem with communication in the workplace is miscommunication. This usually comes when people in the workplace aren’t clear about goals, projects, visions, or the work that needs to get done.  When employees are unified in their understanding of the company goals, they will be able to communicate with one another more effectively in order to reach them.

Communication Style

Respecting the right mode of communication in the office with each manager, coworker, and employee is best.  This might be email, face-to-face conversations privately or openly, phone, instant messenger, group text, ect.  If you’re not sure exactly how you should be communicating, ask.  Help employees learn this information faster by including it as a part of training and by creating internal documents to be used for reference.

Always deliver bad news in person. It may seem easier to convey negative information via e-mail, but imagine how you’d feel if you learned electronically that your best work friend had been fired or that you lost a sought after project, vs. hearing it from another human being.

Manager and Employee Relations

Not only should communication be improved between team members who work together, but it is as essential if not more so between employees and their managers. Managers who take the time to get to know their employees and are willing to listen to them will find it easier to communicate and keep direct reports on task. By becoming more connected to their employees, managers can begin to learn about and even anticipate areas that are problematic.  When employees feel that managers are able to address their individual concerns, they are more likely to feel connected.

Open Dialogue

Keep employees up-to-date on company changes, progress, and future plans.  This could be through a newsletter, monthly meeting, group e-mail, etc.  Allow employees to be involved in the discussions.  Encourage questions and comments, and show that all ideas are welcome because employees are more likely to communicate well when they feel they have a part in where the company is headed.

Gathering Space

Create more open space in the office where employees can comfortably gather. This space should be open and encourage employees to connect and converse during their lunch hour. This space could also be used for team meetings, staff gatherings, or anything positive that brings people together. Some offices go so far as to remove cubicle walls and redesign work spaces so people can communicate more freely.

Give feedback

Employees can’t improve if you don’t tell them what they need to work on. Giving them guidance will allow them to improve their efficiency and will prevent frustration.  Plus, they’ll know that the lines of communication are open.  Recognizing a colleague’s or employee’s achievements with positive feedback can be a great way to promote a harmonious atmosphere in the workplace. If given correctly, it can help encourage positive behavior, show appreciation, and develop better relations with co-workers and managers.  There are some wonderful tips for giving feedback to employees, managers, and co-workers here and here!

Use a file sharing system to keep everything in one place

Keeping all company files in an easily accessible place will speed up your workflow and improve internal communication. Use it as a bulletin board that employees and managers can check once or twice a day for messages from people in the office.  Internal servers are great, but consider using a program like Dropbox or Google Drive to allow remote workers to have easy access as well.

Use a task management system

To ensure that instructions and tasks are clear, make use of a task management system. A good one will allow you to assign tasks to people, include specific instructions, and set due dates. The expectations will be clear and communication will be improved.

A key element of effective communication is being aware of the often subtle differences in how other people think and process information. Our own beliefs and perceptions serve as a filter for every communication we receive, and because of this, two people may receive the same piece of information quite differently. These unseen differences often set us up for friction and misunderstandings.