11 Tips for Communicating Effectively With Employees
Updated December 5, 2022
Clear and effective communication between managers and employees is key to a team's success. When employees understand department goals and believe their manager values their ideas, they are more likely to be motivated and productive at work. As a manager, how you communicate with your staff can affect both your and their performance. In this article, we explain why effective communication is important and list 11 tips for communicating effectively with employees.
Why is communicating effectively with employees important?
Effective communication with employees is important for ensuring a team understands your expectations and meets shared goals. The benefits of good communication include:
Keeping teams informed
Avoiding confusion and misunderstandings
Completing projects accurately and on time
Keeping employees motivated and engaged
Helping employees perform to their highest potential
Building trust and respect between you and your team
Employees have a significant impact on a project's success, so it is your responsibility to make sure they understand how to achieve that success.
11 ways to communicate effectively with employees
Here are several things you can do to improve workplace communication between you and your employees:
1. Be open and honest
Demonstrating and encouraging open communication can earn your employees' trust and make them feel like valued members of the organization. Start by being honest and transparent about your expectations. Be comfortable telling employees about the strategies that work as well as the ones that do not. By encouraging employees to assess things that are not working, you can find solutions as a team and make them feel involved in the process.
Also be honest about the organization's success and financials, if the company allows it. Employees appreciate knowing how the company is performing and what areas need improvement. Invite your employees to be open, as well, by asking them to share their opinions during meetings.
2. Be approachable
Make sure your staff feels comfortable coming to you with ideas or concerns. Tell them they can talk to you anytime they want. Leave your office door open when you do not need privacy. Maintain a positive and friendly attitude, including with your body language and nonverbal communication. Slow down and acknowledge employees rather than acting rushed or busy, even if you are.
3. Communicate clearly
Your tone, language and communication style can help you deliver messages and goals to your employees clearly, whether in person or through email. Use easy-to-understand words instead of technical language to avoid confusion. Prepare for meetings by planning what you want to say and how to say it.
When communicating with employees via email, keep your message simple and concise, with short paragraphs. You might use bullet points or an outline format to organize the main points of your message. If you can give your employees a clear and strong understanding of your goals, they have a better chance of reaching them.
4. Encourage feedback
Let your employees know you value their ideas and opinions by encouraging feedback. You might create an anonymous suggestion box where they can share their thoughts without judgment. During meetings or group projects, encourage them to critique your ideas, too. When they do, acknowledge their opinions. Send occasional employee surveys asking if they understand their goals and responsibilities and what you or the organization can do to communicate better.
Give your employees feedback, as well, while maintaining a balance between critical and positive advice. Tell them how they are performing, areas where they can improve and things they have done well recently. Recognize small and large achievements in private and during meetings in front of the team.
5. Update your employees
When employees are busy working on their individual tasks, they might not be aware of the status of broader projects and goals. Try to remove the barrier between management and staff by giving your employees updates on the business. Tell them which projects were successful and which ones were not. If the company is reorganizing roles, launching new products or updating policies, inform your employees before they hear about it in a company-wide email or press release. Updating your employees on business matters helps gain their trust.
6. Choose the right method
You can communicate with your employees in a variety of ways, from meetings to video conferencing to emails. To deliver an effective message, make sure you choose the correct communication method for the situation and the employee. Some employees, for example, prefer email for all their communications. Others understand information more clearly when you talk about it in person. Generally, however, you should communicate the following in person:
Training or instructions
Major news, such as a promotion
Tasks or questions that require immediate action or response
Sensitive information you do not want in writing
Experiment with communication platforms such as chat programs or apps and video conferencing tools to find a method that works best for your team.
7. Meet regularly
Schedule regular team meetings to encourage communication and share information between employees. Weekly meetings are opportunities to:
Discuss progress on projects
Talk about challenges
Solve problems as a group
Make sure employees understand their responsibilities
Prepare an agenda, and keep meetings short so employees find them helpful rather than time-consuming. Meetings can be in person or virtual using video conference or group chat programs.
8. Understand your staff
Get to know your employees so you can understand their needs, how they communicate best and what type of feedback they like to receive. Ask questions to learn more about them, and show empathy when they ask for help or encounter challenges. Tailor your communication strategies to each team member's style, so you understand each other and can help maximize their potential.
9. Meet individually
In addition to team meetings, schedule regular one-on-one meetings with each member of your team. They might be more open to sharing ideas and giving and receiving feedback in a private setting than in front of a group. Individual meetings also show your employees you value their opinions and work. They give you an opportunity to connect with your employee on a more personal level. One-on-one meetings can be quick and informal, and you might schedule them once a month.
Active listening is an important communication skill that makes your employees feel appreciated. Pay attention to what your employees say, and try to fully understand what they are communicating. Examples of active listening include:
Summarizing what the employee told you to show you understand
Using body language such as eye contact and nodding
Responding with affirmations such as "I understand"
Asking open-ended questions
Active listening requires you to understand, respond to and remember what your employee said. This communication skill is important during scenarios such as problem-solving, dispute resolution, interviewing and training.
11. Be responsive
When your employees communicate with you, act on it to show you take their ideas and concerns seriously. Respond to emails as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours. Follow up on verbal conversations with email summaries of the important points. If you tell an employee you are going to do something, do it. Responsive managers make employees feel heard and appreciated.
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