One of the cornerstones of a successful small business is the cultivation of clear, open lines of communication. Oftentimes, job responsibilities will overlap; projects will range in size and scope; and employees will be required to collaborate in order to achieve the desired end goal. As small businesses grow, expand and shift focus, communication becomes more important than ever.
While each company and its clientele varies, there are a few key components to maintaining open communication in the workplace that businesses of any size can benefit from implementing.
- Keep your employees informed. Team members should be aware of changes throughout the organization, even if they don’t directly affect them. It builds a high level of trust and cohesion, in turn fostering communication.
- Encourage interdepartmental relationships. Co-workers need to view each other as human beings – with emotions, rational thought, differing personalities and modes of communication.
- Allow for play and humor in the workplace. An overly serious, intimidating environment will quickly quash employees’ eagerness to openly engage with one another.
- Make face-to-face communication frequent and emphasize its importance. It would seem that with endless digital reach, managers and employees would have no problem staying connected; however, the truth is, distance will grow if person-to-person interaction is not a priority.
- Set aside time – both formally and informally – to address employee concerns; ask questions; brainstorm ideas to improve workflow; and support a positive, honest and collaborative environment.
Great Place to Work® begins an article on the importance of communicating in the workplace with a quote from George Bernard Shaw: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Never assume that a project is fully understood or a message received with the sender’s exact intentions conveyed. Listen to one another; engage proactively; and always strive to build and improve upon strong, clear lines of communication in the workplace to maintain a positive, cohesive environment.