The importance of good communication in the workplace
Let’s face it. The office can be a minefield of potential disasters, hazards and misinformation if proper communication is not part of the deal. People have the potential to misunderstand each other and get their wires crossed which eventually festers and leads to breakdown in effective communication.
What does effective communication in the workplace look like?
- Free flow and availability of information between individuals and departments
- Clear task expectations and outcomes
- Task objectives are met
- Employee and employer satisfaction
- Mutual understanding and respect for each other’s roles are created
So, what can be done in order to promote a healthier and happier workspace?
Tips to enhance better communication in the workplace
When you are in the workplace there are a number of issues and matters that might crop up. Through the many daily processes related to business there is ample room to misunderstand each other, get wires crossed and equally to forget that in addition to being in a work situation, we are also human. However on the bright side of life, there are a number of structures that we can put in place in the work setting that allow for a better working relationship and communication.
Regular staff meetings:
Without regular contact and a safe and space for people to air their issues, talk about developments and feel acknowledged, the business environment can easily become a toxic space. Having a staff meeting at least once or twice a month, allows workers an outlet to deal with grievances but also share ideas, thoughts and reflections that help bring people together. In order for people in a corporate setting to feel secure there has to be democratic structures in place, equally from a human resources point of view that allow for arbitration of disputes, a platform that allows for salary increase and fair appraisals and assessments.
One-on-one meetings to promote accountability
Beside the normal and expected staff meetings that take place in an organisation, it also helps for managers to have one-on-one meetings with staff members. This brings about a space that allows for accountability and transparency. A workers performance may also be assessed fairly without fear of judgement and ridicule in front of other employees and as such the worker grows in confidence and is more accountable for their actions. When these types of meetings and communication takes place, an employee is likely to feel less overlooked and more likely to take responsibility for his or her behaviour and energy that they bring to that space.
Guidelines for External Communication
Be professional at all times
With social media and the number of avenues open for networking available nowadays it is easy to lapse into a more casual approach with clients and within the workplace. Social interaction, gatherings, meetings and get-togethers have blurred certain lines of formality now more than ever when it comes to business. However, although we do have to operate within this new type of space, we should never lose track of the fact that a piece of business communication or a business interaction needs to be professional at all times. Show up for meetings on time, shake hands if offered, make use of polite language and have an engaging manner if you interacting with someone in person. Over mail, begin with greetings and sign off by thanking the person that you are writing to.
Within the body of the mail itself, be courteous enough to keep it short, sweet and simple enough to read and digest so that the recipient receives the gist of your message fairly easily. You are an ambassador for your company; let your e-mail reflect the fact
Be social media savvy
In the current day and age it is extremely common for social media interaction and work to overlap. Your co-worker might send you a friend request or an external client just might be following you and the company that you work for over Facebook, Twitter or one of the many social media platforms that there are nowadays. The truth is that the digital age has allowed us all to become more connected at all times. From a work perspective, remember at all times to curb the rants, be careful of attacking brands online. Always remember at the back of your mind that your social media posts are still a reflection of who you are and the company that you work for. Preserve your relationships with stakeholders, business partners and others.
Remember to be courteous and informative
Aside from the regular e-mail, there are a number of ways to keep in touch with clients as well as keep them informed and engaged with what is happening with your brand. Believe it or not, even though everything is now done at a touch of the button, a phone call with a person’s voice on the other end, never fails to put a smile on a client’s face. Send out newsletters and online communication to your client regarding news and services that you may have on offer. Schedule Skype meetings even if your client is out of town, in fact with the plethora of resources available nowadays it is easier to stay in touch than not. Engage with your client.
- Why does online communication matter in the business setting?
The world has come a long way since snail-mail, door to door memos and minutes taken by an inundated secretary, battling over the keyboard of a typewriter. In recent times the workplace has become completely revolutionised by electronic and e-mail communication. It’s no surprise that nowadays at a simple touch of a button or click of a mouse; we can literally reach out to thousands of people. Now more than ever, there is a burgeoning movement towards capturing everything online, creating a digital paper trail and logging online communications when it comes to all forms of business interaction.
Online communications normally takes the form of:
For the uninitiated online communications within the workplace play the following role:
- It enhances clear and concise communication- inter-departmentally
- Encourages transparency and good communication with external stakeholders
- Informs and educates people about events taking place in within an establishment
It is clear that we are living in a world where it is imperative for us to become a digital native, but there are still areas that need our fine-tuning and focus.
Learning E-mail Etiquette
The humble e-mail… seemingly an innocent and very basic piece of business communication, which possibly each of us sends off, every single day. Though it may seem like a very elementary piece of communication, the truth of the matter is that an e-mail has the power to communicate a brand message, calm a temper, soothe frayed nerves and send off messages that are vital to the business.
Yet, there are still a number of areas when it comes to e-mail etiquette that we need to improve upon.
In a work setting, there are number of guidelines and best business practice that govern communication when it comes to sending off e-mails. Some e-mail etiquette guidelines are as follows:
- Ensure that relevant parties only receive mails
- Make use of the bcc function at all times
- We need to always ensure that our e-mail messages convey professional courtesy and transparency at all times.
Further e-mail etiquette and guidelines
A well-written e-mail is one of the most defining hallmarks of how we present ourselves in the business world. Here are some tips and guidelines to bear in mind when making use of the function.
- Use your professional e-mail address: Have the company that you work for set one up for you.
- Are you writing to the correct recipients? Check, check and then check again to avoid embarrassing faux pas
- Be clear about the subject: Avoid long-winded descriptions, save your words for the e-mail itself
- Make sure you add on attachments if you have indicated so in your mail: This one is really self-explanatory
- Watch your tone: Always remain positive and polite. Stay away from anything overtly humorous or unsavoury in the content of your mail
From a company perspective, many people use e-mails primarily as a tool within business communication. However, there are moments when employees lose sight of the real purpose of company mail. Many end up sending personal mails and sharing jokes across the room from each other, instead of using it for its actual purpose.
While we are all only human, and will reach out to each other in this way, we should always note that we will be held accountable for what we send or say on a company e-mail.
Facilitating mass communication
With the pace of modern living, we are always moving at lightening pace from one destination to another, needing to be at a number of different locations. Particularly from a work point of view, we are required to be in meetings, business trips, conferences, engage in Skype calls to name but a few.
So how does this entire network of activity come together? Helped by online communication of course!
Say that you’re holding a corporate function. Long before the day arrives, plans will be set in motion. Guests will be booked, suppliers for every role function will be engaged upon and a formal communication or e-mail will be sent out informing guests of the event. Prior to the digital age, the idea of having to send out a memo or arrange a long sit down for a number of phone calls would have been completely daunting and intimidating. Now in the digital era, we literally have the convenience of reaching a number of people at the click of a button.
Further than just the common e-mail and sending out invites, people have the opportunity to respond and network around an event in a number of ways. Prior to an event starting people have the chance to log on to a website that could give them more information. They are able to book attendance of an event and purchase tickets online, all of which help to reinforce and strengthen the brand identity of the event.
It is not enough for people to merely work at an organisation. People need to see, identify with and believe in the company that they work for. One such way that a company may do so is through corporate communications. Newsletters, competitions for staff, incentives, and letters of recommendation and words of encouragement sent via mail or logged on the website of an organisation all make the world of difference in raising staff morale. By sending out communications, it is more than a mechanical act, a corporate identity is built.
- Building better presentations
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Whether we would like to acknowledge this or not, there are many reasons why a well set-out presentation could help us in the course of business. Most often a presentation plays a critical role in helping us communicate the essence of a business message to a group of people. You will find that even if a company isn’t about to get involved in a pitch or presentation, there will still be an invaluable library of documents and presentations available on standby. Chances are that these documents contain the essence of the business, its brand messaging and a brief introduction that answers the basic questions of anyone that chooses to interface with them.
Most work presentations take the format of a PowerPoint presentation, and usually contain an interactive blend of words, pictures, GIF’s, transitions and animation effects.
Benefits of building better presentations:
- Brand messaging is reinforced- This is an important point for both employees at a company and any other external clients that may interface with the brand. Surface knowledge is deepened, people are reminded why they care and chances are they will also reaffirm their commitment to a brand after learning more at a presentation.
- Ideas are communicated better- It is often difficult to communicate every single bit of news, happenings and events that are associated with a company over a set period of time. PowerPoint presentations distil the essence of the message and give all stakeholders adequate information about most recent happenings, events and trends.
- Since presentations cover aspects of conversation and spoken word it helps to humanise the company or the business. Good presentation skills help to advance the cause of the
- You are able to maximise the usage of technology in order to put your company messaging across
- Promoting Digital Literacy (Understanding the digital landscape and the role it plays in business)
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In the business setting, now more than ever we have a need to be digitally savvy and literate. It is now no longer appropriate to equip your secretary or P.A with the skills to function in a digitally enabled environment, without you also being on the same page. The workplace is a dynamic and evolving place that needs like-minded individuals in order to drive progress and make new and exciting things happen.
Here are some of the benefits of digital literacy within the business communication space:
Digital literacy enhances mobility – Understanding principles of digital literacy means that you can connect with people anywhere and anytime using mobile technology. Not only is this useful from a social perspective, but also from a business point of view. No opportunities are missed. You are able to access your e-mails, contacts and Skype connections from your tablet or Smartphones from literally anyplace on this planet that has an internet connection. You also get to choose where you work from, which is a great plus for working parents who need to be on the go, or in two places at the same time. More especially if you are the type of person who hates being chained to the traditional desk, you are able to break out of that and work from anywhere.
You remain up-to-date and with the times-
Once you are in a digitally savvy space and you have committed to understanding technology and how it evolves within business, you will find that you want to grow and stay relevant. Becoming conscious of new trends and information is key, imparting your knowledge and receiving training will also help you to stay on top of your game. The work setting is always looking for ways in which to streamline processes and market themselves to clients and the public eye. Technology plays an important role in bringing this across.
You remain employable and an asset to an evolving company
In this day and age it isn’t simply enough to market yourself based on your core skills and abilities. Companies everywhere are looking to see what can do that goes over, above and beyond what is expected of you. One way to express such dynamism is to showcase your knowledge, skills and abilities in extra programmes and technical applications. More so than this being a skill, it showcases the fact that you are flexible, willing to learn and able to progress with a company.
Effective Social Media Training
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More than ever business communication has been influenced in a huge way by the presence of social media. If you are a brand or a company you have to stake your claim in the social media space as an influencer and one of the most immediate ways you can do so, is through the number of social media networks available. In the last ten years or so, social media marketing relative to business has gone through an unprecedented growth curve.
Nowadays when one thinks of the brands that one loves, one of the first things that you want to know is: ‘Are they on Facebook?’
Effective social media training in the business setting allows you to:
Connect with your audiences – One of the key attributes of any business having social media accounts is to connect with the people that it serves. Many consumers and customers previously complained about products and brands not getting back to them on questions and queries. With the proliferation of social media, this is no longer the case, as we can now easily drop questions, connect with a community of like-minded individuals and feel a sense of belonging within a social media group.
Build brand credibility – People like to believe in the brands that they love. Taking the time to build a rapport with customers on a social media platform is an exercise in building brand credibility and trust. Cleverly done, things such as competitions, prize giveaways and CSI (corporate social initiatives) documented on a company’s social media page, all go a long way towards helping people believe in the brands that they love.
Shows ‘heart’– Deep down, we would all like to think that a company or an organisation needs us for more than just our dollars and cents to add to their bottom line. We would want to know that a company cares for us as its clients and has our very own best interests at heart. Social media training in the business world allows a brand the chance to show what they are passionate about by running campaigns. It also allows its audiences the chance to see that the company is transparent and honest in their dealings, which means that they are reliable and trustworthy.
Make a meaningful contribution to your fans life– At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how cold, clinical or functional your product may seem. The truth is, even something as seemingly simple as a cement factory can add value to the lives of their customers on social media. Aside from the most obvious material generated or shared around functional building and home décor tips, you could even provide inspiration to those audiences around the concept of helping them build their dreams. Whichever way you look at it, people are looking to connect to value and this relates to any information, advice, tips or forms of inspiration that will help them realise their true potential.
At the end of the day, we could explore a great many more reasons as to why online communication is not just important, but necessary in a business setting. One of the keys to realising just how important it is, is for us to remember that in as much as something may be said from a professional point of view, we are still dealing with the dynamics of a human being. People enjoy being validated and appreciated along with having ease of communication. Good content and amazing communication skills are key ways in which to connect with and engage audiences and drive progress forward in the business setting. Shouldn’t you be doing the same?