Creating an environment of open dialogue in the workplace is essential for both attracting and retaining top-tier talent within your organization. Listening to questions, addressing concerns, providing feedback and implementing suggestions are benchmarks for effective leadership, as well as requisites for high-caliber performance and employee retention.
According to business experts at The Office Club, an emphasis on communication equips employees to “feel valued, satisfied and motivated” which enhances their morale and increases their output.
This collaborative form of company culture is beneficial at the management level too because, as The Office Club also indicates, this “helps your business by fixing issues that might arise. Open communication is a win-win because it keeps you in-the-know and helps others feel connected and accountable.”
Here are some practical ways to make communication the norm in your company culture, boosting morale and increasing the rate of employee retention.
Combine Information and Inspiration
Empower your staff to both absorb and actualize the message you’re communicating through a combination of important information and creative insights. The goal is to educate and update your employees on crucial projects or developments while showing all team members that they’re important assets to the growth, success and profitability of each undertaking.
For example, combine project launches with a run-down of the most recent successful one, pumping everyone up as they brainstorm how to make the next one an even bigger hit.
Practice Engaging Body Language
Remember when asserting yourself to other people, words are not the only factor in this equation—the other piece to consider is delivery. Certain nonverbal cues like tone, stance, gestures, eye contact or facial expressions can affect how employees receive and interpret your message. In fact, 60 to 93 percent of your message is delivered via these non-verbal cues, according to Office Body Language: 5 Cues You Should Know.
To avoid issues, avoid crossing your arms, settling into a wide stance or jutting your chin out, all of which indicate anger. Instead, subtly mirror their posture and gestures as a sign of respect and understanding.
Balance Your Speaking and Listening
Address each conversation as a mutual exchange of ideas in which both participants are granted the space and freedom to articulate their thoughts without interruption. Dialogue requires two people, so resist the urge to monopolize the discussion or strategize your response while the other person is talking.
Ensure that you devote just as much time and effort to listening as you would to speaking. This should be the rule for everyone in the organization, leaders and lower-level employees alike.
Offer Weekly Brainstorm Sessions
Invite all staff members in your department to attend meetings designed for them to share their ideas in a constructive environment. If you have a large organization, break this up by department to save time and space.
Plan to facilitate this open forum once a month or quarter, so everyone has a chance to participate when their best ideas strike, and keep it rules-free:
“A true brainstorming session is an “anything goes” platform, where those involved can throw out any ideas, no matter out wacky or unconventional they may seem. With no rules about what can be put on the table, brainstorming can generate some awesome solutions,” says Sheevaun Moran, business adviser and master coach.
Send Out Reminders and Newsletters
Reinforce the takeaway points of an important discussion with a follow-up memo forwarded to each participant, so they have an outline to scan whenever needed. Some employees digest information audibly, and others are more visual, so this ensures that you take both modes of comprehension into account. If you’re worried about productivity, keep the writing concise for quick reference.
When used in a positive and effectual manner, communication often becomes an indispensable factor in a company’s long-term success. Keep the lines of communication open—the extra effort will pay off in the end when your best employees are invested in the company’s growth.
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About the author:
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for more small business tips and ideas.