Your small business team is top-notch. Everyone has the skills needed to do their work, knows where they fit in and brings something unique to the table. So, why are you still feeling stressed when deadlines approach? There’s a good chance you can eliminate that stress by brushing up on your internal communication strategy. Whether you’re running a brick and mortar company or working with a virtual team, communication skills will help you meet deadlines faster and with ease.
How are you verbally approaching your employees? Are you saying too much? Not enough? Using ambiguous language?
Here are five basic rules that will help you make the most of communication in the workplace.
Rule No. 1: Keep it Simple
Over-complication can happen all too easily. This is especially common for those who spend a lot of time researching and learning from experts in the industry. While doing your homework is beneficial for most aspects of running a business, this can sometimes leak out into conversations with employees. In some cases, you’re giving them more information than what they need to do their jobs. Sifting through the information can take more time than necessary and lead to lower productivity. So, keep workplace communications simple and to the point.
Rule No. 2: Speak With Clarity
While simplicity is great, you need to say enough to make sure that your intended message is clear. If you take a few extra minutes to make sure you are saying exactly what you mean, you’ll save hours clarifying the points missed during the initial conversation.
Being vague can create loose expectations and lead to missed deadlines. Rather than saying, “Finish this assignment this week,” use real dates, times and any other details needed to get your message across. Here’s a better example: “The 36 page draft is due by 12:00 noon on Friday, August 12.” Clear expectations are the only way to ensure that projects run smoothly.
Rule No. 3: Take Advantage of Technology
Technology is here to make our lives easier, and you can incorporate many new business technologies as part of your internal communication strategy. Of course, everyone uses email, but here are other common ways to be more productive with your communications.
- Task Management. Keep all of your tasks organized in one place, set realistic goals and track your progress with a task management platform. It is a great way to keep everyone accountable and stay organized at the same time.
- CRM. You can handle all of your customer relationships with CRM software which can make small business employees more productive. Plenty of CRM tools are available online, so shop around to find the right one for you.
- Mobile Communications. 70% of workers wish that their employers would communicate via text message. As an employer in the mobile age, SMS is something you need to consider as part of your internal communication strategy.
Rule No. 4: Avoid “Industry Slang”
Industry slang seems only natural to use when speaking within your organization. However, you should think twice before using it. Of course, your employees should understand what you’re talking about, but what happens when that kind of language trickles down to their interactions with customers and external partners (contractors, etc.)? People who aren’t in your industry will become confused, and you will have more potential work clarifying. Speak the language a layperson can understand or at least make sure your staff is trained to do so.
Rule No. 5: Learn to Listen
Communication involves a lot of speaking, yes. It also involves active listening. Your ability to listen is equally as important as your ability to speak. Solearn to be mindful of what your employees are telling you - there is immeasurable value in their insights.
Active listening involves staying quiet, paying attention to the speaker and waiting for your turn to speak. When it comes time for you to reply, repeat what the speaker has just finished saying, to make sure you understood the message they were trying to deliver. If you missed something, wait until you receive clarification before you respond. Try this next time you’re having a conversation, especially with someone you find especially difficult to communicate with. You’ll notice an entirely new level of outcomes.
When you are working with a small business team, communication is the key to successful projects. Learning to employ these five rules - at all times - will increase your chances of seamless internal communication. Ensure that you and your team keep communications simple, speak with clarity, avoid jargon, take advantage of technology and learn to actively listen. Start following these rules today, and watch your conversations transform!