It’s never been more challenging to communicate effectively in the workplace. With more teams expanding globally and transitioning to a remote or hybrid setup, the modern workplace is becoming increasingly fragmented.
Navigating communication in this type of environment is tricky but, with the right approach, totally doable. In this blog post, we’ll explore recommendations to help your employees communicate more effectively in the workplace.
What does effective communication look like in the workplace?
Before we dive in, let’s define exactly what effective communication is.
Effective communication is the process of conveying information from one party to another in an efficient way—and it’s something that should happen across all job levels, roles, and teams. To illustrate what effective communication looks like in the workplace, let’s look at a few examples.
Example 1: Ineffective communication
Imagine you’re on a team working toward a major product launch. Unfortunately, the process has been chaotic.
You’re not sure what other people are working on, which has led to duplicate efforts and wasted resources. New team members feel lost because there’s no formal documentation process for the project. And the project lead keeps scheduling long meetings to discuss updates, which eats into your work time.
Ultimately, the deadline ends up being pushed back multiple times. These are all symptoms of poor, ineffective communication.
Example 2: Effective communication
Now let’s imagine you’re on a different team working on a product launch.
Everyone shares quick, daily updates on Slack, so you know what people are working on. There’s also a shared document where people write detailed notes, making it easy to onboard new team members. And communication is divided between emails, messages, and meetings—depending on which format makes sense.
This is a team with effective communication.
The benefits of effective communication in the workplace
Improving the way people communicate in the workplace helps everyone—regardless of whether you’re a CEO or an entry-level employee. Here are a few of the benefits of effective communication:
When everyone’s communication is aligned, you’ll see better teamwork and collaboration across the company. This, in turn, will lead to improved individual, team, and organizational performance. How? Effective communication helps employees manage conflicts and creates an environment that’s more conducive to innovation.
Effective communication also leads to saved time, money, and resources. Ineffective communication, on the other hand, will cost you. Author and communications consultant David Grossman found that communication barriers in the workplace cost companies $62.4 million per year.
Stronger company culture
Communication builds trust within organizations. When employees feel that open, two-way conversations are happening—whether it’s between colleagues or with the leadership team—relationships get stronger. This creates a positive company culture that people want to be part of.
10 helpful tips for communicating more effectively in the workplace
You might be wondering: isn’t communication a natural byproduct of working at an organization? Why do I need to change what I’m doing right now?
While communication does happen organically in the workplace, it can improve with a bit of effort—just like any other skill. Here are 10 tips to help everyone at your company communicate more effectively, regardless of whether your teams are remote, hybrid, or in-person.
1. Diversify your channels
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to communication. In other words, diversify the channels you communicate through. The reason is that some formats work better for certain types of messages.
For instance, Slack tends to be the most effective platform for asking quick questions or sharing information with a large group. But an in-person meeting or video conferencing call may make more sense for topics that require a lengthy discussion.
Taking a more varied approach also ensures that your communication reaches all your employees—including those who work from home or live in different time zones.
2. Establish communication guidelines
It can be overwhelming for employees to navigate how to communicate with the people they work with—especially when they first join your organization. To help, create communication guidelines for your team that outline basic communication etiquette. This guide can answer questions like:
- Does the team have regular syncs? If so, what is the purpose of each one?
- How frequently do managers and direct reports have one-on-one conversations?
- Which Slack channels should team members be part of, and what is the purpose of each one?
- What’s the best way to share minor project updates? How about major announcements?
This clarifies how, when, and why the team communicates in certain ways. Taking this extra step ensures that everyone is on the same page.
3. Document, document, document
Nobody has a perfect memory. We all occasionally forget about a task we’ve been assigned or misremember things we’ve discussed. That’s why it’s critical to create as much documentation as possible. If you’re not sure when or how to do this, here are a few ideas:
- Meetings. A lot happens during meetings. So make sure someone is taking notes, and have the point person circulate them to the rest of the afterward. This is a helpful practice that lets everyone review the highlights from the meeting.
- Projects. Keep detailed records for every project—whether that’s through your team collaboration software or in a shared document. With this approach, everyone knows how the project progresses and can refer to these notes when needed.
- One-on-one conversations. Having an agenda can keep your conversation on track and also documents the talking points from the meeting. This allows both the manager and the direct report to review what they talked about during their last check-in.
4. Learn your colleagues’ preferences
You can significantly improve team communication by learning the different preferences of your colleagues. Some people may be more responsive to a Slack message, while others prefer a quick call. Understanding the different communication styles of your teammates can make the process of exchanging information much more effective.
The best way to find out the preferences of your colleagues is to ask. Let them know you want to find the most effective way to communicate with them. Or, if you prefer, observe and take note of which channels people tend to be the most active in.
5. Build your listening skills
There’s a huge difference between hearing and listening. The former is a passive process, while the latter is active. When you don’t practice active listening, it’s easy for messages to get lost in translation or misunderstood.
To avoid this, invest in building your listening skills. You can receive leadership coaching, read relevant books, or even take courses to help you develop this ability. And don’t be afraid to ask your teammates for feedback—they may be able to share insights that help you become a better listener.
6. Create a culture of feedback
It’s challenging for two people to align perfectly with their communication styles—let alone an entire team or organization. That’s why feedback is an essential part of improving effective communication in the workplace.
If your manager leads a meeting that feels inefficient, gently let them know and make suggestions for improvement. Similarly, be open to receiving feedback from others as well. By doing this, you can create a culture of feedback on your team or at your company, allowing you to improve communication across the board.
7. Cultivate trust
As we mentioned before, communication builds trust. But it goes the other way too. To communicate effectively with others, you have to trust the people you work with. Trust allows you to speak openly and honestly with each other, while making it more comfortable to share feedback when it’s necessary.
Of course, building trust isn’t an overnight endeavor. But there are small things you can do to strengthen your relationships with your coworkers:
- Get to know your colleagues better. Take the time to get to know your colleagues beyond the work setting. What are their hobbies? How do they like to spend their time? Who are the most important people in their lives? Getting to a more personal level with your teammates—whether that’s through virtual water cooler activities or in-person coffee dates—can deepen your relationship and cultivate more trust.
- Keep your promises. When your team knows they can rely on you, they’re more likely to trust you. So always meet your deadlines, let people know what you’re working on, and be transparent.
- Be helpful. Another great way to build trust with your teammates is to find ways to support them. For instance, if you know a colleague is struggling to meet a deadline, offer to take something off their plate. This demonstrates that you have their back and want to see them succeed in their role.
8. Use the right tools
In today’s world of work, tools are critical to facilitating communication. In fact, the McKinsey Global Institute found that using social tools can enhance communications, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. Specifically, they estimate that these technologies can raise the productivity of workers by as much as 25%.
But what types of tools should you invest in? The good news is that there are tons to choose from! For instance, you can consider a noise-cancelling software like Krisp, which uses artificial intelligence to remove unwanted sounds from both sides of a conference call. This is a small but impactful way to make your meetings more productive.
9. Have frequent touchpoints
An essential part of communicating effectively in the workplace is having regular touchpoints. These can take the form of weekly team meetings, monthly one-on-ones, and daily standups. Having these built-in opportunities to check in with your team makes it easier to keep each other updated and creates two-way communication loops.
10. Ask questions
If you don’t understand something during a meeting or conversation, ask clarifying questions. By doing this, you can confirm that you’re on the same page as your teammates. It also saves time down the road since you won’t have to ask for another call or meeting. Here are some ways to phrase your follow-up questions:
- “Can I say that back to you, just to make sure I understood you correctly?”
- “I didn’t understand this part of the project. Would you mind explaining it to me again?”
- “Could we compare notes after the meeting to make sure we’re aligned?”
Use these tips today to see more effective communication in the workplace
Effective communication is a must when it comes to the workplace. While it takes a bit of effort to improve the way your employees communicate with each other, the benefits are well worth it. Not only will you experience improved collaboration, performance, and cost savings—but you’ll also cultivate a strong company culture that your employees will want to be part of for a long time.
If you want to take the first step toward improving communication efforts at your organization, try Krisp. It’s free and can help you have more efficient, engaging meetings with your teammates.