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Building effective communication skills in employees

Building effective communication improves engagement and helps you to better understand your team's needs and goals. Learn more with the experts at Go1.
Mike Jeavons, Content Writer

Good communication skills are imperative to any business. Without effective workplace communication, your business is likely to lose top talent, customers, and revenue. So what can you do to make sure every member of your organization can confidently, fluently, and effectively communicate not just with customers, but with their colleagues?

In this post, we’re going to break down the aspects of workplace communication, including what effective communication is, how it benefits your business, and what you can do to improve your employees’ communication skills.

What does effective communication look like?

An employee should be an effective communicator regardless of what stage of their career they’re in. One of the fastest ways for an employee to further their career is by having a solid understanding of what makes for great communication in the workplace. This includes:

  • Being clear and concise
  • Not using jargon wherever possible
  • Being direct and not expecting people to read between the lines
  • Being confident when giving their opinions
  • They listen to others
  • They make eye contact
  • They understand non-verbal cues
  • They use affirmative language

By being a strong communicator, an employee asserts themself as a key and valued member of a team, gains the trust and respect of their colleagues, gives and receives feedback well, and explains themselves clearly and thoroughly.

As we’ve already covered, effective communication doesn’t just relate to the communication between an employee and their colleagues, but also between an employee and your customers or clients. This means that communication is the key to providing great customer service. 

Why is good communication vital in the workplace?

Good communication helps build and maintain relationships across all aspects of your business. As a result, your teams will work more effectively, meaning they’ll increase their productivity, make your customers happier, and increase your revenue.

However, there are many more reasons why effective communication skills benefit your business.

Improved collaboration

With a strong team ethic comes better collaboration, which allows colleagues to work together in the most effective way possible. Collaboration leads to innovation, creativity, and being able to plan and implement strategies.

Aids growth

Clear and consistent communication helps all aspects of your business to grow, with openness allowing stakeholders to give more greenlights. And of course, with growth comes more revenue possibilities.

Increased morale

When employees know how to communicate there are fewer barriers, and with this openness comes better morale and a greater level of satisfaction.

It lets everyone have a voice

Communication isn’t just about getting your message across to others, it’s also about listening and understanding others. When employees feel like they’re being heard it improves motivation.

Mutual trust and respect

Solid communication between managers and their team members builds a relationship based on trust and respect.

What are the consequences of poor workplace communication?

Just as there are advantages to ensuring your employees have solid communication, the impact of poor business communication skills can be massive.

Unstable environment

When communication is poor it means employees are unsure of what’s expected of them, which creates an unstable and unpredictable environment. When expectations are skewed it results in lower productivity and accountability.

More conflicts

One of the most obvious impacts of poor communication is an increase in conflicts. When employees struggle to communicate it leads to more misunderstandings, which leads to gossip and incorrect assumptions. As a result, conflicts are more likely, which can create an unpleasant environment to work in.

Poor collaboration

A lack of communication will directly impact the output of your teams because there will be far less collaboration and innovation. This will result in employees delivering the bare minimum, and won’t allow your business to become industry leaders.

Unhappy customers

When your service is impacted, it will directly impact the happiness of your customers. When customers are unhappy, they’re unlikely to continue spending money with you and won’t act as a brand ambassador - which will hurt your reputation and revenue.

Lower morale

When colleagues don’t communicate and output is poor, it can cause things to spiral further downward. When deadlines are missed and quality is impacted, it can have a real effect on morale. As a result, your business may even experience an increase in staff turnover.

How has the pandemic affected workplace communication?

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses have embraced remote or hybrid working. That means, more employees are working away from the office than ever before.

As a result, one of the biggest challenges facing businesses is how to adapt communication to fit with this new way of working. No longer are colleagues sitting close to each other, able to freely ask questions and build that team morale through conversations.

Because of this, businesses are having to figure out how to improve communication when working from home. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools available to make this happen.

How can technology help with workplace communication?

There are plenty of effective communication tools available to help bring colleagues together in a physical, remote, or hybrid workplace.

  • Instant messages - software such as Slack and Microsoft Teams enable colleagues to message in real-time, either privately or in a group channel
  • Email - email has been a tried and tested method of communication for decades, and is now becoming the more formal method of workplace communication
  • Video conferencing - platforms including Zoom and Google Meet enable teams not only to speak and see each other but share their screens and give presentations
  • CRM - customer relationship management software and other similar tools such as Asana and allow for seamless task management and collaboration in any workplace setting

The role of leaders when communicating with employees

Good communication has to start from the top because without strong and communicative leadership, a team is destined to underperform. By communicating well, managers become mentors, delegate effectively, inspire, motivate, and lead their teams to success.

Managers must make themselves available to their team members. They have to empathize and be great listeners, which will help win the respect of their colleagues. They also need to clearly outline their expectations and ensure their team members have fully understood.

Communication is a two-way street - something managers need to remember when communicating with members of their teams.

The role of employees when communicating with leaders

The way employees communicate with managers and stakeholders is equally as important as it is the other way around. Employees shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions if they’re unsure of their objectives or they need more information. Key points to consider for how to communicate effectively with management include:

  • Consider potential solutions before approaching managers with a problem
  • Communicate with all colleagues on a personal level, regardless of seniority
  • Ask for regular feedback and be open to constructive criticism
  • Be open and honest
  • Accountability goes a long way

How to choose the right communication channel when communicating with employees

As we’ve already highlighted, since the start of the pandemic many businesses have introduced a variety of new communication tools.  But with many communication channels now available in the workplace, how do you know which one is the right one?

When deciding on the appropriate channels, you need to consider the following:

  • Is it formal or informal?
  • Is it urgent or time-sensitive?
  • Is it confidential?
  • Does it need a response?
  • Does it apply to one employee, a team, or the entire company?
  • Does the message need to be backed up with more information?

Depending on the answers to the above, you may feel it requires an email, a direct message, a telephone call, a video call, or a face-to-face meeting. For example, when a certain toilet cubicle is out of order an email would most likely suffice. However, to let an employee know they made a major mistake that resulted in a customer's order being delayed would likely require a face-to-face meeting or video call.

The importance of good non-verbal communication

According to research by psychologist Albert Mehrabian, 55% of all communication is non-verbal. For those who are unaware of this, they may not realize that they’re communicating things they didn’t intend to be communicated.

For example, body language, eye contact, and facial expressions. Tone of voice is also a major factor, as while we can be saying one thing, our tone of voice may indicate something else entirely.

That’s why body language in the workplace is important, and developing effective communication skills can teach employees to be aware of these non-verbal methods.

Proven tips on building better communication

The most effective way to develop the communication skills of your employees is with online courses which are available to access right now.

However, below are eight tips for effective communication your teams can implement:

  1. Ask questions and listen to the answers
  2. Use simple language and avoid jargon where necessary
  3. Stay on subject
  4. Make sure you’ve been understood
  5. Think about what your body language is saying
  6. Make eye contact
  7. Show respect even if respect isn’t being shown in return
  8. Take your time and consider your responses

How to implement these among your team now

Introducing an employee communication strategy to develop communication within your business will enable colleagues at all levels to improve their skills.

As part of that strategy, online communication courses are a flexible and cost-effective way to teach your employees all the necessary skills, ranging from the fundamentals to more advanced, specific topics.

For more info check out our blog post on how to improve your communication.

Go1 has an extensive communication resource library

At Go1, we have a wide range of online communication courses available to access right now. For more information on what Go1 can do for your business, schedule a demo with our team today.

Go1 helps millions of people in thousands of organizations engage in learning that is relevant, effective and inspiring.
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