Many organisations have a problem where there is little communication between the top and the bottom. OK, a lot of ‘cascading’ takes place. But I wouldn’t call this communication.
This is odd, since there are great benefits to communication. When employees are given a voice AND feel heard, they see the organisation as more fair. This increases employee engagement, which means lower staff turnover and higher profitability.
So it’s obvious that we need to work on good communication.
Let’s start with what is non-good communication: It is informing. It is one-way.
Two-way communication is a dance: While one party talks the other listens and processes, and then gives feedback. Then the first party responds to this feedback, whether saying they will implement it, discussing how to overcome stumbling blocks, or explaining why it cannot be implemented.
Many are surprised to find out that when managers explain the reasons for change initiatives, and how such initiatives will be conducted, employees view decisions taken as fair and just. EVEN WHEN employees’ suggestions are not all implemented AND there is two-way communication. Because here managers/leaders go back to employees to explain why their suggestions where not taken on board. So employees still feel listened to … Their dancing partner wanted to stay out of this dance, but they did not abandon them altogether!
Communicating frequently and openly builds trust in management and the organisation. It shows that managers are benevolent, they mean well, they treat people with respect, and they have integrity. Basically, it shows that management are compassionate human beings, rather than ruthless business people wanting to increase profits at all costs.
So what does this mean for you?
You may think you are too busy for all these communication events, and that, after all, the reason you are so busy is that you care for your employees, and want to make sure they have a job to come back to tomorrow. Fair enough.
But what is their perception? Going back to the dance floor (please bear with me!), if you spend so much time planning the playlist that you do not find time to dance with your partner, what are they going to think?
So what can you do?
- Open your diary. Schedule a weekly 1-hour block for a team meeting.
- Ask each team member to contribute at least one agenda item, which could be anything. Make this clear at least 3 days before the meeting, so they have time to think about it.
- Take notes.
- Think about these points. Get back to them with a detailed explanation.
If you would like to know more about improving communication and trust in your organisation call us on 0161 8187 131, or email us.
Dr Sharon Xuereb is an employee engagement specialist, and a psychologist working in the UK and the US. She has developed a free quiz so you can find out what type of manager you are. You will instantly get practical tips to help you become an even more effective manager!