Improving office communication is consistently at the top of the employee engagement survey feedback, however, improving communication in the workplace can be difficult and even daunting for leaders. Decisions about how much to share, when, and how to share it can swamp plans before they even take flight.
In reality, it doesn’t need to be that difficult. A good place to start is asking yourself “What information can help employees feel more connected to the business?”
In our experience, employees want to be engaged, which means (among other things) they want to feel their work is valuable, and understand how their role contributes to the success of the organisation. Whilst team members don’t need all the detail, they do want to be connected to the business, and that’s entirely reasonable.
This is where many leaders have the opportunity to re-think and improve office communication.
“I’ve always believed in transparency, and sharing with the team elements of the vision, strategy, and progress being made,” advises our founder and CEO, Stefan Wissenbach. “Especially when an organisation is going through change, it’s important for employees to feel connected to the direction of travel for the business.”
Transparent companies gain an additional advantage – more clarity on the company’s decisions and direction, and less static diluting the message. Simply put, truth quashes rumor.
“What you miss out, they will make up,” notes Stefan.”Get ahead of the rumors and the stories by increasing transparency and delivering open and honest communication. If people are just getting snippets of information and not the full picture, they’ll fill the gaps and make their own story.”
Before creating a whole new communication program, we recommend first going back to employees and finding out what they want more of. In our experience, invariably, they want very little, meaning that improving communication in the workplace does not require a huge increase in work. The information employees often seek include:
- The future vision for the company
- The company’s goals and plans for the year
- New initiatives
- Progress updates against goals and initiatives
What’s more important, we’ve found, is that leaders commit to providing consistent updates, and provide open and honest communication even when results aren’t ideal. In these moments, increasing transparency can provide important context to individuals and teams, helping them prioritise their efforts and take more ownership of their contributions as they relate to outcomes.
“It is easy to default into cascade mode — passing on information, and declaring priorities, insights, and expectations — and miss the opportunity to build the commitment and ownership the organization and the strategy require,” writes Elizabeth Doty in the article, “How to Help Your Employees Own Your Strategy.”
Ultimately, having a greater sense of ownership and connection to the business is what employees crave. Make that the goal of your communication approach, and you’ll find workplace communications to be easier (and more effective) than you expected.