From politicians to businesses to sports teams to families, there is probably no greater challenge than that of establishing and maintaining good lines of communication.
There has perhaps never been a time when more lines and avenues of communication have been available to us. Conversely, however, with all of these many lines of communication open and available for others to reach us, we can quickly go into communication overload.
When used well, avenues of communication can build morale, promote good teamwork and create effective outcomes. Otherwise, too many avenues of communication improperly managed can actually create chaos.
Here are 5 ways that good communication is critical to helping your business be its best.
1. Facilitates Better Relationship Between Managers and Employees
While there will always be a time and a place for top-down, chain-of-command organizational leadership, the truth is almost all businesses are working towards a more collaborative, “team-oriented” type of business model.
Today’s effective managers keep their finger on the pulse of their teams to help facilitate their work rather than hinder it. A wide range of communication tools are making it easier than ever for an employee to get a few minutes of their manager’s time or keep them updated on any problems or challenges they encounter. This also means managers are more rarely suddenly blindsided by issues they didn’t even know existed.
2. Collaboration at its finest
A study by the Harvard Business Review found that over the last decade, collaboration between workers and managers has increased by 50% or more, with workers spending nearly 80% of their time on collaborative activities. In fact, employees now are expected to spend so much of their time “collaborating,” they have little to no time to actually do their own work.
Remote work opportunities and project management tools like Trello allow teams to actually collaborate together while still allowing individuals to get their own personal work done.
3. Enables Remote Work
In 2017, IBM, one of the earliest pioneers of remote workers, recalled thousands of remote workers back into standing offices. While remote workers may be unquestionably more productive, IBM felt that they were missing out on a critical component of what happens when workers spend time in an office together day after day after day.
They tend to talk about problems, issues and challenges they all face, which often leads to the creation of innovative solutions to those challenges. Smart technology and industry 4.0 is geared towards finding ways of bridging this gap and providing a means of allowing remote workers to still collaborate and communicate in a way that creates the same innovative solutions that teams working together in an office produce.
4. Measuring and Improving Communication
One of the many challenges of the digital age is information overload. Imagine a fairly small office with 30 people on an intranet.
Now imagine that each of those 30 people share just two interesting news stories, bits of trivia or a fun goat video each day.
That means that every individual has 58 pieces of trivial sharing to either wade through or ignore each day. Wading through it all eats up valuable time, but not participating can make them seem like they aren’t a “team player.”
While analytics are already showing promise for business usage, there are even personal uses for advanced filtering and sorting features that can have a direct impact on effective inter-office communication. Even more importantly, analytics can help managers determine the best means of communication with their teams so their communication doesn’t just get lost in the shuffle.
5. Transparency and Two Way Communication
Too often, the lines of communication only flow one way or even worse, trickle one way. When employees do not feel that they are heard, they often simply stop communicating.
Contrary to what managers and employers may think, however, this is not a good sign. Often, it is simply the calm before the storm. The best way to avoid this is to ensure that communication flows both ways, that employees genuinely feel heard and that their concerns are being responded to.
While the digital equivalent of a suggestion box can be a valuable tool, it is meaningless if none of the suggestions are ever acted upon.
Finding the balance between keeping people informed and overloading them with information is a constant, never-ending balancing act. Over-communication may be one of the biggest reasons why remote workers get so much more accomplished than their office-bound counterparts.
While good communication and even having fun are important components of almost any job, they must be managed carefully. When employees feel they are expected to spend so much time socializing, communicating and collaborating that they can’t get any work done, that’s not good for them and it’s not good for your business.
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