Just like in any relationship, communication is essential to any business. Without it, employees won’t know the plans and goals of the management. Consequently, sales and profitability will be affected. This explains why many firms have corporate communications units that are in charge of communication campaigns both internally and externally.
But what if you have a small company? Is communication easier in a firm with few employees? Not necessarily. There are many hurdles to effective communication in a small company such as language barriers, personal issues, lack of feedback and new hires. If you are part of a small firm, here are some tips in improving communication in the workplace:
One of the best ways in improving communication in the workplace is to conduct personal meetings. With few employees, it is easier to agree on a group or personal meeting.
Smaller firms should avoid teleconferencing and email meetings as much as possible. Why? It lacks an important element in communication—body language. Many communication experts say that body language is the most important aspect of communication because it sends signals on how an individual truly feels about a topic or a conversation.
With personal meetings, you and your colleagues can make eye contact. You can also see their body language which can help you in communicating more effectively.
Meetings can be formal and informal. But what is more important is that there should be an agenda. Have a list of topics that you would want to be discussed, and share them with your team ahead of time.
Although personal meetings are great in ironing out differences between team members and making everyone on the team in the same page, so to speak, you should limit off-topic discussion to a minimum.
Make expectations clear
One of the biggest hurdles in communication is unclear expectations. In a small business, a miscommunication could be the reason why a team is unable to complete an important project or address the needs of a client.
Employees should know what the organization or unit expects from them. Ideally, there should be an outline or document that details professional goals for employees, or what the management expects from them. Moreover, management should immediately communicate any changes in the plans, goals and even company direction to the employees.
Having more personal meetings doesn’t mean you should stop using modern communication channels like instant messaging or content management systems. The key is knowing when to use modern communication tools and when not to use them.
For example, an instant messaging system is more efficient in sending quick updates to a colleague instead of picking up the phone and making a call. If you have employees who are deployed to another town or state, an instant messaging system can help in improving communication.
Content management systems, meanwhile, can help track your projects if you have remote colleagues.
Many owners or managers of small firms overlook the need to seek feedback from their employees. Perhaps they think that if their employees see anything wrong about the organization, one of them will be brave enough to approach management and raise their concerns.
But not all employees are brazen enough to do so. Thus companies may be missing out on vital inputs from their workers which can be useful in improving the company’s operations.
One of the ways in improving communication in a small firm is to actively seek feedback from the employees. Employees’ feedback not only is a good source of inputs in refining a company’s operation but also aid in enhancing levels of engagement.