Whether co-worker to co-worker or company-wide, we have some tips on how to improve communication on every level.
Peer to Peer
1. Implement the buddy system
Help make new-hires feel at home by pairing them with an experienced coworker. It offers support from someone else other than the manager. SnackNation decided to try the Buddy System and not only helped the new-hires to integrate into the company but it also increased communication between departments.
2. Spend the lunch break together
Inter-Departmental Lunches are a great way to encourage communication between individuals and between departments. Here, coworkers can communicate on a more personal level, helping form deeper bonds between individuals.
3. Go to boot camp
Offsite workshops break down barriers, encouraging a more natural and social relationship between employees.
Manager to Individual
1. Ask your team what they think
It’s the best way to see what problems there are and how to solve them. Use 15five, an online questionnaire that takes 15 minutes to fill out and 5 minutes to read. Make sure to ask for general feedback but also about internal communication within the company (Ex.: What is the tone? Do you feel involved?…).
2. Keep everyone in the loop
Make sure all big news is shared with the entire company. Usually the communications department is responsible for releasing any updates and forgets to not only let the press know, but also the employees. If employees hear information from an outside source first, they don’t feel valued.
3. Skip-level meetings
When employees meet their boss’ boss. Middle managers can be helpful in certain situations, but sometimes it’s important for the leadership to personally meet with the average worker. Seeing from a different perspective can help in making some crucial decisions.
1. Acknowledge the positives!
Too often, managers only reach out when something is not going right. Something like employee of the month may seem cliché, but can boost morale. The bottom line is, your employees need to feel appreciated, otherwise they won’t put forth much effort.
2. Find an alternative to emailing
Although emailing may seem to be the quickest and easiest way to communicate, it often leads to confusion or even over-communication. Sometimes email chains get so long that the primary message is lost somewhere along the way. 71% of office managers questioned in a recent “State of the Office Manager” report by SnackNation still prefer email over any other form of communication in the workplace. SnackNation recommends Slack. Slack allows you to separate conversations by channel/theme or by project so that specific information is easy to find. Specialized project management tools such as Basecamp, Trello, and Jira can also be useful in certain situations.
3. Put your phone away!
Although it’s tempting, make sure all phones are out of sight during a meeting. Looking at your phone while in a meeting suggests you are not at all interested in what is happening.
4. Be vulnerable and authentic
Authenticity is vital for successful communication. Authenticity can result from vulnerability between coworkers. One way to encourage vulnerability is for every employee to share a story before a meeting begins. By sharing personal information, everyone feels more connected and will be more encouraged to speak openly and freely, especially when it comes to criticism.
1. Set up office hours!
This is one of the best ways to encourage face-to-face communication within the entire company. Everyone feels they have an equal opportunity to speak their mind. Aim for scheduled office hours once or twice a month.
2. Suggestion boxes
A great tool for employees to voice their concerns and share their thoughts. The greatest advantage is the anonymity. People tend to be more honest if they know the comments cannot be tracked back to them. It is extremely important that all suggestions are addressed in company-wide communication. Google Forums, Survey Monkey, and Free Suggestion Box are some great and easy ways to get feedback!
3. Schedule all-hands meetings
These meetings enable face-to-face interaction between individual employees as well as between departments. Larger companies should aim for an all-hands meeting at least once per quarter. Remember to let off-site employees (such as those who work in a warehouse) call into the meeting. Try to fly all the employees in for an all-hands meeting at least once a year.
4. Question & answer sessions
These sessions are very similar to the suggestion box but they contain no anonymity. However the direct answer from the manager can be seen as a huge positive. The questions can be submitted either ahead of time or asked in person during the meeting.
5. Say no to cubicles!
Open office layouts are a great choice because they encourage communication between employees. In the case of normal cubicles, employees are more likely to overuse emailing.
6. Utilize the cloud!
This ensures equal and fair access to all important documents.