How to… communicate with staff
We look at how you can interact with your employees for the benefit of your company
If you want people to understand you, don’t make what you’re saying complex.
- Be active in the company
To have good communication with your employees, you need to have a relationship. And to have a relationship, you need to have a presence. Whether its continual, or occasional, it’s important to be active in the company and be part of what’s happening on the floor. People will respect you more and you’ll respect them more, making it easier to speak openly and giving you both a better understanding of each other’s roles.
- Be clear and concise
If you want people to understand you, don’t make what you’re saying complex. Don’t risk them getting lost in a whirlpool of words, jargon, processes and technicalities. Quite often, keeping things short and sweet is the best way to communicate. Other instances might require longer, more complex explanations, but using simple language will mean that whoever you’re talking to will have a better chance to understanding you.
Communication is a two way thing. It’s not just about telling people things, it’s also about listening. Good leaders don’t close their eyes and ears to others, especially when their business is small and needs everybody to work well together and in the same direction. Listening to ideas, grievances, feedback, and create a dialogue with your team.
- Explain decisions
You can make the best decisions known to the business world, but without explaining the ideas behind them, your employees won’t be able to carry them forward in the best way possible. Employees should be afforded the respect of knowing why you’re taking the company in a certain direction, or why you’ve introduced some new technology. They are the guardians of your business, after all.
- Establish a vision
If your team has a clear vision to work towards, life will be much easier for everybody. Communicating this vision to them will allow them to understand their role and how it contributes to the business’s success. Be sure to always tell them if the vision changes – that way they can adapt to the new situation, and will feel respected in the process.
- Understand the right people to speak to about specific things
Your employees have been hired for certain purposes. It’s important you know who does what, and what each person’s responsibilities are. It’s also important to know each person’s character and – to a certain degree, at least – their personal circumstances. That way you can approach them in the most effect, sympathetic and productive way.
- Create a culture
Employee engagement is a key aspect of building a strong business, and the best way to engage your team is to establish a positive and supportive culture. Freedom to express themselves within established boundaries will encourage them to feel connected to the company, take ownership of their roles, and communicate what they believe to be the best way forward.
- Ensure your message is heard
Feedback is an important part of the communication process. If people aren’t understanding the message you’re trying to put across, then you need to know about it. Whether you’re speaking, emailing, or even advertising, try to find out whether or not you’re hitting the mark. For long-term messages, staff surveys might be one way to establish whether you’re being heard loud and clear, while an open forum every week could be useful to ensure everybody is clear on what you’re trying to say or do.
- Recognise good work
It’s obviously important to communicate with staff when their work is not up to scratch, but it’s equally important to recognise the good work they do. Start-ups and SMEs need encouragement from outside the company, but encouragement inside the company fuels its employees. Don’t be afraid to commend people when they’ve done something right – a positive and happy environment can work wonders.
- Understand body language
The majority of what’s communicated isn’t verbal. There are studies which suggest only seven percent of communication involves words – the remaining 93 percent is visual. Eyes, arms, legs, feet, unintentional gestures, expressions – they can all tell you something about others, and tell others about you. If you can read people without talking to them, you will be able to understand whether they are unhappy, discontented, or happy.