5 Ways to Improve Communication in Your Workplace

Illumeo Customer Success's Profile

The irony to many workplaces is that they can simultaneously be sources of information overload but also of major gaps in communication. It often seems like everyone is constantly talking but the most important messages don’t always get through. So how can workplace leaders improve communication without adding to the overwhelm?

1. Create systems that encourage regular communication

In a busy work environment, it can be easy to push communication to the bottom of the to-do list, so creating regular rhythms and channels of communication is necessary to ensure that it actually happens. 

Whether it’s weekly check-ins, monthly meetings, quarterly reviews, or just a clear path for how and when to share ideas and concerns, it’s vital to make sure everyone in your organization knows that regular communication is both available and encouraged.

2. Model two-way communication

Communication works best as a dialogue, which means creating a positive environment for communication requires both speaking and listening. When messages only flow in one direction, employee productivity and satisfaction are stifled which will soon negatively impact a company’s success.

Model two-way communication for your employees by regularly soliciting feedback and ideas, and by actively listening, not just listening to respond, as thoughts are shared. It’s also important to ensure that everyone in your organization knows how to initiate communication outside of scheduled meetings so that important information can always be delivered in a timely manner. 

3. Choose a method that improves clarity

No one wants to attend (or, even worse, lead) the dreaded “meeting that could have been an email” or unnecessarily add clutter to the already overflowing inboxes of our co-workers. Each of these methods does have its place, however, if it allows you to communicate your message in a clear and accessible way.

An employee review or a conversation about a new or detailed project that requires multiple questions and answers will often be communicated most effectively in a face-to-face meeting or over the phone. A quick scheduling question or brief project update, however, can often be most clearly conveyed via a Slack message or short email. When you think about the best way to communicate with someone at work aim for clarity both in your meaning and desired response and choose your communication method accordingly.

4. Streamline communication channels

The good news is that organizations today have a wide variety of options for how to communicate with their employees, the bad news is that when companies employ too many different communication methods, employees can become overwhelmed and important information can become lost. 

If an employee is receiving messages through multiple channels–such as email, texts, Slack or Trello, direct messages, Google docs, calendar invites, and more–it can quickly lead to missed communication and forgotten or misplaced information. To avoid these communication pitfalls, organizations should seek to streamline communication methods as much as possible so employees will know where to find the information they need and how best to respond with questions, ideas, and updates.

5. Always follow up

A communication black hole is one of the most frustrating experiences in the workplace. Questions that go unanswered, feedback without a response, or in-progress actions without recent updates can not only leave employees feeling unheard and unappreciated but can also lead to missed opportunities, mismatched expectations, and mistakes. 

Thankfully, there are many tools at a leader’s disposal that can remind them to follow up. Using reminders and due dates in calendars, email, or other software can make sure a follow-up conversation or meeting doesn’t fall through the cracks. Blocking off time on your work calendar each day or week to follow up on conversations or respond to questions can also be an effective method for ensuring communication continues to flow freely throughout the organization.

Just like any business skill, improving workplace communication requires intentionality, implementation, and repetition. It’s an endeavor that takes time and effort, but in today’s business environment, especially with the recent increase of hybrid and remote employees, effective communication is one of the most important keys to an organization’s success.