We can resolve so many issues within the workplace simply by communicating more frequently and more honestly with our employees. Consider how much productive time is wasted in gossip or in employees spending time worrying rather than working because they don’t have all the information.
Regular communication is essential. If we don’t communicate regularly with our employees, they will talk amongst themselves. That talk is usually focused on the worse case scenarios and is often more horrifying than the facts.
Regular communication with employees should come in many forms and should be about sharing information with them as well as getting their thoughts and inputs on any number of issues.
Consider this example:
There is a problem with a product sent to a major client. Leaders from the sales group and customer service have been trying to figure out the best way to solve the issue – which was brought to their attention by a sales lead. Their staff are aware these conversations are happening and are getting increasingly worried because they feel out of the loop and are concerned about their jobs. From the perspective of employees this situation has been going on for a couple of weeks and the staff has heard nothing from their leadership about the situation. As each day passes, the employees get increasingly worried about what is going to happen and more and more the days are focused on employees planning for the worst case scenarios. A few employees consider asking, but are afraid of doing so. No one asks leadership what’s happening.
The sales leader begins to notice that numbers are not being met. This is surprising as his sales people usually meet their quotas. He reaches out to learn more. In talking to one of his sales leads, he learns that there is lots of chatter about the client who has a problem with a product and that employees are worried about what it means for them and the company. The sales leader is shocked to hear this. The problem was solved weeks ago and, in fact, wasn’t much of an issue anyway.
The problem – no one communicated with the employees to update them on the situation! A simple communication updating the staff about the situation would have likely prevented the wasted time worrying about worse case scenarios.
Consider any of the following ways to regularly communicate with employees about the business overall – what’s going well and where there are challenges. When there are challenges – reach out to employees for their thoughts on how to solve them.
- Monthly or bi-monthly all staff or all hands meetings
- Internal newsletter
- Employee portal
- Monthly department meetings
- Annual strategic planning sessions
If something happens outside of the regular communication period, share it via an email or bringing employees together for a special meeting. We often don’t consider how much employees can contribute to the business beyond the day-to-day work that they were hired to perform. I have seen some real business challenges solved by individual contributors in the business. I have also seen problems that have gone on longer than they should have simply because no one shared what was going on and asked for thoughts and ideas to solve it.