Effective Communication in the Workplace: 3 tricks to fuse the old with the new

Effective communication is essential in the workplace. When you’re not communicating enough, employees are kept in the dark about things they need to change and improve. Likewise, if you fail to encourage open communication your employees may not feel free to come to you with a problem, letting it grow into a wider conflict. If colleagues are not updated on each other’s progress they may run the risk of duplicating work or fail to meet deadlines as a team. When different teams within the office don’t communicate with each other regularly the company as a whole can suffer.

Today, learning how to communicate effectively in the workplace is more important than ever. Millennials want more and faster information and feedback at work to meet their ambitious professional development goals. PWC’s Survey ‘Millennials at work: Reshaping the Workplace’ revealed that, “41% would rather communicate electronically than face to face or over the phone,” while another, “78% said that access to technology they like to use makes them more productive.”

However, with the onslaught of new tech tools that are helping us to meet this generation’s communication demands, we also see sources of tension. Some older generations and less tech savvy employees can be hesitant to adopt new technology, preferring traditional face-to-face modes of communication. Although technology can make our lives easier, psychologists have pointed out the limits of non-verbal communication. Body language, facial expressions and tone of voice are also extremely important for effective communication as they offer more clues into the thoughts and intentions of the speaker.

Creating more open channels of communication is a simple fix that can help you avoid these common pitfalls and encourage inter-generational knowledge sharing. At Impraise we’ve found ways to achieve a balance between the power of modern tech tools and traditional modes of communication.

Here are some tips from our team to help your company communicate effectively:

Google Docs & Brain storming sessions

Google Docs can be a great tool to help you collaborate with multiple co-workers on a project, allowing you to directly read and edit each other’s work.  However, nothing beats a good brainstorming session. The beauty of brainstorming is that it allows employees to bounce ideas off each other. Being able to see an issue from multiple perspectives allows you to come up with a creative solution to a problem. It also includes everyone in the idea making process fostering a stronger sense of ownership amongst everyone in the group.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that sometimes you’ll see the same people giving their opinions in brainstorming sessions. Technology can encourage people who may be more likely stay on the sidelines to voice their opinions after a session. This is especially true for observation minded employees who like to listen to different arguments and come up with innovative new solutions after letting ideas simmer.

The unstructured nature of a brainstorming session can also make it easy to drift off topic. Using a tool like google docs can help bring more order to the creative process. During the meeting minutes and learnings can be recorded directly on the meeting agenda for everyone to see in real time, ensuring important information isn’t forgotten. After the meeting a shared google sheet can help everyone keep on track with the action plan, but also allows for flexibility enabling members of the team to make changes that appear directly on everyone’s sheet.

Slack/HipChat & All Hands

Millennials have grown up sending short messages and pieces of information by text, Facebook and Twitter. Slack and HipChat are great tools for sending fast messages to individuals or groups of colleagues without disturbing others in the office. This is especially useful in open concept offices like ours. It can also help you boost team spirit by updating everyone on achievements within your team. However, it’s imperative that you don’t let technology completely replace office wide meetings.

Though Slack can be great to get things done amongst a small group of people, there is also not a lot of transparency. Even if each individual team is on track accomplishing their own goals, with closed communication channels disconnects can grow amongst different groups within the company.

All Hands is a popular solution that we use here at Impraise. Every company that uses this tactic has their own version. Our All Hands consists of a quick simple meeting every morning in which everyone gathers and shares what they worked on the day before and what their plan is for the day. Whether someone speaks for one minute or ten the benefits are greater than you might expect.

All Hands promote greater transparency amongst your different teams. Even if your marketing and development team don’t work together on many projects, it’s important that both are informed of each other’s progress and new projects being implemented. You’ll find that this can lead to more cross team input and spontaneous collaboration. It also provides a forum where company and individual achievements can be recognized.

Even if not everyone can attend these meetings, technology provides an alternative solution. Skype and Google Hangouts are useful tools to enable the members of your team who are traveling or working remotely to attend meetings virtually. Don’t forget to remind ‘telecommuters’ to turn their videos on so everyone can see their facial expressions

Impraise & One-on-ones

Giving fast and continuous feedback through Impraise puts the professional development of your employees and managers into high gear. However, to gain the full benefits of continuous feedback it’s essential to build trust. Building trust requires you to simultaneously create a relationship in which you, your managers and employees are comfortable giving feedback to each other in person through one-on-ones.

The best managers follow up with their employees after a 360-degree review. This is especially important when an employee has received constructive feedback. Meeting one-on-one allows you to discuss the results, hear their reactions and come up with a plan to integrate this information into their personal development plan

At the same time when tensions are high using technology can also be beneficial, allowing employees to collect their emotions before responding to feedback. For example, when you want to ask for more information about the constructive feedback you were given but feel your response may be affected by your emotions, having to write down your response can help you to calm down your wording until you have time to speak calmly in person. This can be particularly helpful when you first begin transitioning to a feedback mindset. Once trust has been created, Impraise helps you to keep the feedback flow going when in the office or on the go.  

Embracing new tech tools can boost the flow of communication within your office, but remember these should be complementary, rather than a supplement, to face-to-face human contact. For more information see our simple formula for productive team communication.

Photo by Pavan Trikutam