Communication ranks among the most challenging issues for organizations big and small. Whether it is a team of two or two thousand, communication issues can quickly tank a company’s productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction. With more distributed work teams and fear of resignations still looming, knowing how to improve office communication is critical to organizational health. This article provides a few easy ways to incorporate office communication into your priorities, and actively participate in their betterment.
At first glance, assessments might seem like an unorthodox way to improve office communication. Yet, assessments build confidence and are foundational to strong work teams. Personality tests like CliftonStrengths (formerly StrengthsFinder), Myers Briggs Type Indicator, and the Enneagram provide a common language that enhances communication. Work teams can talk more clearly about what they need, what they can contribute, and how they may need help. When they know what employees are feeling or how they identify with certain issues, managers are better equipped to provide strengths-based feedback and align their teams around what each does best and how they prefer to work. This process leads to stronger engagement, performance, and better communication for everyone involved.
All good conversations require active listening. To improve office communication, practice active listening. Hearing someone is not the same as listening to them. Active listening is more nuanced and requires more practice and skill. Implementing the right type of listening skills in the right situation means understanding the goal of the conversation and choosing the listening posture and style that will help you accomplish it. When people feel understood, they communicate better, and when their conversational counterpart demonstrates listening well, they will connect more with the speaker. Doing this step will help each party feel better heard and understood. Improving office communication is important for the wellbeing of each employee and the organization at large. Becoming a better listener takes practice and the commitment of each party, but it can completely change an office dynamic.
Watch your language
Your body says more than any four-letter word ever could. Your posture says everything about your status, far more than when you use words. When you are in a conversation, pay close attention to whether or not your body language and words are aligned. People are more likely to notice and react to a person’s body language as a tone indicator than their words. Communication skills are important, and the importance of posture can be an overlooked way to improve office communication. Notice if (or when) your arms are folded across your chest, your gaze is diverted, or your jaw is clenched. That signals discomfort, or a closed off nature. People with something to hide stand like that. Improve your office relationships by being an open book. Stay conscious of your body language, because if you’re noticing it, the other person likely is, too. Each dimension of wellbeing is improved or harmed by the quality of your conversations, so be mindful of your body and your words.
Make one-on-one meetings non-negotiable in your organization. Employees need these regular touch points with their managers, especially if your work team is hybrid or fully remote. While there are many must-haves for a hybrid work environment, manager communication may top of the list. As managers lead the way to improve office communication, they will make a shift from manager to coach. They will more naturally and intuitively ask good questions and unleash the strengths of each employee. While weekly one-on-ones are best, choose a cadence that works best for your organization, whether bi-weekly or monthly at the very least.
Working to improve office communication should be a priority for all organizations during this tumultuous time in the work landscape. It’s important to keep employees motivated in 2022 and good communication is imperative to retain your talent and improve their wellbeing.