Effective Communication in the Workplace: 7 Golden Rules to Follow

Mark Terry - October 13, 2020

What’s the secret to truly effective business communication? It’s like the holy grail of internal communications. If you can only pin down how to make your employees sit up and listen, you’re winning the game. You don’t just need them to listen either, you need them to understand and act. Once you have that positive action in place, you have the golden ticket to success.

How you communicate information is just as important as the information itself. This is especially true for internal communications, where you need to effectively transmit the goals, value and practices of your organisation in a way that inspires action and results. We have identified the seven golden rules of powerfully effective communication at work. These internal communication best practices will help you implement a strategy that really works, giving you a team that is connected, engaged and motivated. And ultimately, a team that delivers to target. That’s what effective communication in the workplace is all about.

Golden Rule 1: Avoid Communication Overload

Send the right message to the right people at the right time. No more, no less.

Less is more. Keep that concept in your head at all times. In this age of information overload, where inboxes are straining, phones are ringing and direct messages are pinging constantly, your employees are already pushed to the limit. You can’t expect them to take time out to read a 10-page report on the latest business successes, or complex guide to the new file-sharing system.

This information overload is negatively affecting employee’s health and well-being. In fact, according to recent research, 25 percent of workers experienced significant stress and poor health due to the volume of information they’re required to process.

 

 The solution?

Keep your communications simple, brief and to the point. When communicating with employees, take time to consider your messages are truly relevant before you press ‘send’. If you ensure that the communications you send out are concise, pertinent and addressed to the correct audience, you’ll automatically gain greater traction. Consider writing a schedule into your internal communication strategy, detailing the key messages that need to be sent in the course of a business year. And then try not to add to it too much. Your employees will thank you.

Golden Rule 2: Use the Right Tools

Use internal communication tools that break down barriers, not ones that create them

 The working landscape has changed beyond recognition over the last 12 months, and our approach to employee communication needs to adapt. With the rise in remote working, it is no longer acceptable to expect staff to battle technology issues in order to access the latest company news. One of the key reasons why intranets fail to engage employees is their propensity to create barriers rather than open doors.

If you’re going to successfully connect with every hard-to-reach employee, you’ll need to take an extremely user-friendly method. When you come to assess your internal communication tools, it’s vital to consider whether they are using platforms that are readily accessible to all.

The solution?

Your aim is to ensure all your staff are actively participating in, and enjoying, your internal communication system. That’s quite a big ask. However, the simple answer is to give them what they want. An internal communications app does just that. It removes barriers by allowing employees to use their favourite means of communication, whichever hardware or software platform they prefer. Once you give employees the freedom of choice, you instantly get greater buy-in.

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Golden Rule 3: Encourage Collaboration

Teams and departments shouldn’t operate in isolation. Open up a social space.

 Collaboration is hard enough to promote at the best of times. But when remote working is added into the mix, it becomes an issue that needs addressing. The ability to collaborate with co-workers is becoming more difficult as colleagues lose the common ground of the shared office space. This can have a powerful effect on efficiency and loyalty, according to a report by The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Cross-departmental communication is a key role of internal communication. To bridge the gap, consider holding a Q&A session or organising an insight meeting between different departments. This will not only promote learning and personal development; it also keeps teams from feeling isolated from each other.

 The solution?

Trying to encourage conversation? An internal communications app provides the simple answer. Built-in modules offer a social space where employees can meet, chat and share. Whether you want to hold dedicated group conversations or provide a space for private conversations, it’s a great way to improve internal communication. By implementing social tools and spaces that employees enjoy using, you’ll be cultivating a commitment to common business goals.

Golden Rule 4: Implement Two-Way Communication

Give employees a channel to feedback their opinions and share ideas

What is two-way communication? Think of tennis. A great match is one where volleys are traded back and forth over the net. It’s not much of a match if it’s just won on serves alone. Similarly, effective communication in business happens when there is a dialogue that goes back and forth between leadership team and employees.

What you’re doing is creating a democratic environment where people share their thoughts and ideas, regardless of corporate hierarchy. This not only help you to solve problems by raising awareness of issues on the shop floor, it also raise engagement levels. Employees need to feel they have a voice. However, it is important to remember to act on the feedback you gather. One of the common internal communication mistakes is to collect feedback but fail to deliver measurable outcomes.

The solution?

An internal communication platform will make it simple to collate and follow-up on feedback from employees. Schedule regular polls or internal communication survey to find out what your staff are really thinking. Ask about job roles, company policies and working conditions. You can also encourage innovative thinking by providing platforms for employees to put forward ideas and suggestions to current business challenges. Ideas management workflows will help to ensure that no great idea goes unnoticed.

Golden Rule 5: Recognise Success

Openly acknowledge and praise achievement in the workplace

Recognition is a powerful entity. Just the smallest amount of praise can make all the difference between employees feeling appreciated or undervalued. In fact, a survey by the APA revealed that employees who feel valued report “higher levels of engagement, satisfaction, and motivation”.

Of all the internal communication ideas, the implementation of a praise policy is one of the most simple, yet most effective. This can be as straightforward as announcing individual or departmental successes through the company newsletter or other internal communication channels. It’s even more valuable when you create opportunities for peer approval. By allowing colleagues to congratulate each other, you create a positive, team-building atmosphere.

The solution?

What you need to create is a platform for this company-wide recognition to take place. On this platform, you can celebrate success, push company values and most importantly, thank the employees who are driving the business forward. An employee app will give you that social space, allowing peer-to-peer recognition and leadership appreciation. The importance of effective communication in the workplace is never seen more clearly than in the case of company recognition.

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Golden Rule 6: Inspire Action

Communications should involve, motivate and inspire employees

How to communicate effectively at work? Simple. Make sure your messages really connect with your audience. Here, the difference between operational communication and internal communication is crucial. While it is essential to convey the key information, procedures and rules that are required for an employee to operate effectively, you also need to talk to them in a way that resonates.

Your internal communication strategy should include a wide variety of approaches and channels that are designed to reach every single one of your employees. Your aim is to inspire them. Ultimately, you want them to not just read your communications, you want them to be motivated to take action. That’s the hard part. Whichever method of internal communication you choose, whether it’s call-to-action messages or company mission statements, it should always be designed to resonate with your audience.

The solution?

Your aim is to encourage staff to get involved and take action. Make sure you elicit participation by inviting responses to your messages and opening up new opportunities to interact. Consider bringing in social media elements: enrich your information with real-time updates, multimedia elements and clickable links. When you’re looking to improve internal communication, these popular features will have a powerful effect on engagement levels.

Golden Rule 7: Measure Your Impact

Monitor the impact of your communications and adapt your strategy accordingly

As the founder of GoDaddy once said, “Anything that is measured and watched, improves.” This is especially relevant in the case of internal communications. Unless you know who has read your communications, and what action they have taken as a result, you are operating blind. In the current business climate, with so many employees working remotely, measuring internal communications has never been more critical.

The most successful internal communications plan will be continually adapted and updated according to the latest figures. And you can only do that if you have full information about how your communications are being received. Effective communication in the workplace is built on facts and figures, not gut feel. This is not a time for guesswork

The solution?

An internal communications app will give you this essential information at a glance. The built-in dashboards and in-depth reporting help you to monitor just how well, or not, your communications are performing. When you’re looking to monitor the overall health of your organisation, regular check-ups are the key to success. Relying on a one-off annual survey can skew the figures. Make sure you schedule frequent polls and surveys to give you a full picture. This is the cornerstone for effective business communication.

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