I still remember the day I got my first memo. I was in my second post-college job and although I’d worked since I was 13 years old, holding positions primarily in the restaurant and food industry, I had never, ever been given a memo from an employer as a form of communication. Usually, messages would just be shared from one shift or one person to the next. Sometimes they translated as intended and, other times, well, not so much…if they were translated at all.
But here I was with a memo in hand for the first time in my life. It kind of made me break out in a cold sweat, as I instantly wondered if I was working for a micro-manager; someone who didn’t trust me as an employee so he felt I needed to get direction in writing. What I learned is that I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Workplace Communication Benefits
By being so communication focused, that office turned out to be hands above all of the other places I’d worked, making it a better work environment for employer and staff alike. As it turns out, I’m not the only one who has noticed the advantages of stellar workplace communication, as many employers with good communication skills report enjoying these types of benefits:
- Higher level of employee productivity. Have you ever been in a situation where your instructions weren’t quite clear, so you didn’t really know what was expected of you, leaving you to think, “What am I supposed to be doing now?” According to one survey of more than 4,000 employees, 37 percent of employees feel this way regularly, costing them more than 40 minutes of work time per day. That’s a whole different feeling than knowing exactly what you should be doing, which is how your staff will likely feel if you continuously communicate expectations and obligations, giving them a clearer path of where they need to go.
- Clearer big picture view. Solid communication enables everyone to know what everyone else in the business is responsible for or doing. This isn’t to say that everyone is in everyone else’s business or tasked with knowing everyone else’s duties or functions, but when you have a basic understanding of how everyone fits into the process, it gives you a bigger picture view. This makes it easier to make decisions that benefit the company as a whole, not just your little piece of it. It also makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself, like being part of a complete puzzle versus just an individual piece.
- Greater sense of team. Along the same lines, when everyone is communicating effectively and working together to achieve one common purpose, there is a greater sense of team. This enables each member to get more done because you are a well-oiled machine, each person pulling his or her own load for the benefit of the team as a whole. This is enhanced even more when there is open communication among the team members, allowing each person to benefit from the knowledge and experience that all of the other members have to offer. According to Harvard Business Review, the keys to creating this type of positive team-based communication include having energy (which is best transferred in face-to-face communications), engaging on an equal level among all team members, and exploration, or communication between different teams, such as when dealing with vendors or clients as opposed to communicating with other employees.
- Better employee performance. Because everyone clearly knows what is expected of them, whether it be from written communications like memos or policy books, or verbal instruction at staff or individual meetings, employees are able to perform their job duties at higher levels, making them more effective and efficient. Plus, one 3-year study of 575 employees and their supervisors concluded that open communication made the employees feel more cared for as well as more valuable, prompting them to want to do a better job in that respect too. Ultimately this means that everyone is living up to his or her potential, advancing themselves individually and the company as a whole.
I’m always interested in learning other small business owners’ thoughts on relevant topics and issues, so if you have a comment or unique article idea, feel free to contact me at [email protected] (put “Businessing Magazine” in the subject line, please). If I use it, it’s a free link to your website!