Two-Way Traffic - Good communication in the workplace

Two-Way Traffic - Good communication in the workplace

Good communication is one of the vital lubricants of the workplace and when it breaks down the impact on productivity and morale can be considerable.   


 It is not simply a case of management imparting clear instructions to the wider workforce. That is obviously important, but good communication at all levels is essential to creating an efficient and motivated operation. Moreover, if we want our working lives to be both enjoyable and productive, it is hugely important to strike the right note as we interact with our co-workers. 



A Tale of Two Offices

 Consider two offices. In one, the teams work well together, and while inevitable arguments or tensions occasionally arise, for the most part, the atmosphere is positive and focused. In the second workplace, something is not quite right. Yes, the work gets done, but there's a pervading sense that the team as a whole is not quite pulling together and that some members are out on a limb. The chances are the problems of that second workplace are down to poor communications. 



So what does that mean in practice? 

 Some extent communication within organisations is a “top down” thing. Decisions are made at board level and filtered down through managers. What we are talking about here is goals, targets, deadlines the culture of the company. 


 However, it is much more than that. The communication skills of middle managers affect whether or not employees feel valued and their successes acknowledged. Equally, when something goes wrong, it is the ability of all members of staff to openly discuss problems and make improvements that create not only a better business but also a good atmosphere.  Moreover, at all levels, good communication helps turn good work into great work as peers talk to peers about the projects they are working on. 



Where Does It All Go Wrong?

 However, you cannot take a good communication for granted Members of staff in poorly run offices often feel they have been badly trained or under-informed. Meanwhile, managers often assume they know what's going on within a business when in fact, they are only getting selective feedback from those on the front line. And well away from the individual radar member of staff may not be communicating well with each other.


 This can be toxic, and research suggests that poor communication results in higher turnover employees, more absenteeism higher stress and lower output. 



Putting it Right

 From a management perspective, a well-run office equates with good communications policies regarding goals, praise and rectifying problems. To that end, owners and directors should be clear about their own expectations while also providing middle managers with the information and training they need to impart information effectively.



Open Culture

 An open culture is also important. One where members staff can own up to mistakes without fair of the “hair dryer” treatment beloved of certain football managers.



Professional Culture

 However, employees can play a part too. The workplace can be an emotionally charged place but also a fun environment. However, work-related conversations should be professional and focused on the task in hand. They should also avoid ambiguity and any level of personal attack.  What is to be avoided is passive-aggressive half statements or criticism behind the backs of others. 



Making a Contribution

 Perhaps more importantly, as an employee, you should feel free to raise concerns about matters directly related to your job – say, workload, lack of necessary information or just a feeling that you are being perhaps underused or could take on more responsibility.  Take advantage of meetings, informal discussions with managers or (more formally) appraisals.  


 Moreover, use the tools and channels at your disposals. Sometimes a face-to-face meeting will be the best medium to get your thoughts across. At other times a well-thought-out e-mail or slideshow presentations could be more appropriate. 


 Equally important, take advantage of initiatives that ask for your ideas on how to make the workplace better or more efficient. 


 Communication is two way. Management and the wider workforce should all play a part.