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Culture & Employee Engagement

How To Improve Poor Communication in the Workplace

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Whether due to distractions or a monotone delivery, we've all been in conversations that we took nothing away from — even when discussing substantial information. Unclear communication can lead to mistakes, profit losses, safety issues, and general confusion within teams' workflows. However, it's often challenging to pinpoint the factors contributing to your poor communication in the workplace.

Both employees and employers should learn effective communication skills and strategies to improve how they share information.

How Does Poor Communication Affect a Team?

Ineffective communication can result in employees missing important details, including procedures, project updates, and feedback. This can lead to costly and time-consuming errors that set your teams significantly back. Communication problems can even put workers' safety at risk, depending on the type of business.

Poor workplace communication also impairs company culture. Teams should be encouraged to establish friendships and share their ideas beyond job responsibilities. Teams that lack interpersonal communication and shared experiences may lose motivation and their sense of community. Furthermore, coworkers who don't feel comfortable talking to one another will be less likely to share their opinions, resources, and best practices.

Distributed teams, in particular, need strong communication skills to function properly. Most distributed businesses rely on multiple lines of communication, such as emails, video calls, and scheduling software. However, employees who don't know how to utilize these tools will inevitably miss details essential to their jobs. Plus, since remote workers rarely meet face-to-face, virtual communication is your only way to establish your company culture.

5 Ways To Improve Ineffective Communication in the Workplace

Nearly every communication problem at work is unique. Your best solution will depend on your specific team and the factors contributing to your bad communication.

Try these five strategies for improving poor communication skills.

1. Practice Active Listening To Overcome Communication Barriers

Active listening accomplishes two goals: ensuring that the listener actually hears what's being said and that the speaker knows they're being heard. This mutual communication style is critical for keeping teams on the same page. If speakers believe they've lost their audience, they'll usually circle back to the most essential missed points. However, they won't be able to do this if their listeners don't communicate back.

Active listening relies on verbal and non-verbal communication, such as body language. Examples include:

  • Asking questions
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Limiting movement and distractions
  • Nodding or shaking your head after key points
  • Repeating or clarifying what the speaker said
  • Giving the speaker time to collect their thoughts between sentences

2. Train Your Employees on Effective Communication Strategies

Communication is among the job market's most sought-after soft skills, especially for distributed organizations. Many employers invest in training to expand their teams' communication methods in the workplace. These training courses focus on general and specific skills, such as active listening or using a digital communication channel. This way, teams can determine the communication styles that work best for them.

Even if your workers have collaborated for years, they can benefit from ongoing training. Employees may forget some of their best practices or overlook barriers to communication. Additionally, various industries are still developing new tools and strategies for the digital age. Frequent training can keep your team communicating fluidly with the most up-to-date practices.

3. Implement an Open-Door Policy and Safe Environment

An "open-door policy" tells employees that they are free to contact leadership with questions, feedback, and other concerns. This work policy doesn't just establish a looser chain of command and guarantees employees can share their thoughts without fear of repercussion.

This approach can drastically improve relationships between employees and employers by tearing down their most significant communication barriers. Simply put, employees who feel safe talking to their supervisors are likelier to do so. This can improve employers' feedback and introduce them to various perspectives and ideas.

4. Teach the Importance of Context and Timing

An open communication channel doesn't mean employees should share information or start conversations whenever they want. Teammates and leaders should mutually respect the timing, relevance, and overall context of their communication. Fortunately, technology in workplaces can improve this process.

For example, let's say an accountant needs to share an important update with their supervisor by the end of the day. If the company uses scheduling software, the accountant can easily check when their supervisor isn't available, such as during meetings or breaks. As a result, they can plan the best meeting time that works for both of their workflows. Alternatively, the accountant could send the information via email with a non-urgent subject. This way, the supervisor can review the details around their own schedule.

Employees should consider the following factors when communicating with others:

  • Time and work hours
  • Relevance to the current discussion
  • Appropriateness
  • The current level of privacy
  • How long the conversation will take
  • The message's wording

5. Implement Digital Communication Tools for Hybrid and Distributed Workers

Digital software, such as Scoop, has revolutionized how we approach communication issues in the workplace. These tools maximize cross-team functionality across every organizational level and department. Employees can easily send messages, upload documents, update projects, and schedule appointments within the same interface. This way, everyone can stay on the same page and seamlessly share information — even worldwide.

Communication technology is especially crucial for hybrid, remote, and distributed workforces where most teams don't operate face-to-face. However, even in-person businesses are taking advantage of what hybrid technology can do for internal and external communication. These tools let clients schedule their own appointments or update their records straight from their phones, limiting communication problems across all levels.

Coordinate In-Office and Remote Teams To Enhance Communication

A lack of communication can leave your teams in the dark, while too much communication can overload employees with stress and noise. By adopting communication technology, such as Scoop, you can simplify this process by letting each person manage their own schedules and channels.

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