The Best Ways to Encourage Open Communication in the Workplace
Open and honest communication in the workplace is a non-negotiable for high-performing teams. Without open communication, tasks can go uncompleted, team members can become disengaged, and company culture can get lost.
Does your team know how to communicate openly in the workplace?
Do you know how to encourage communication with your team members?
Many businesses list “communication” as a company value, yet they often don’t know how to encourage open and honest communication in the workplace.
If you’re wondering about the importance of open communication and how to improve communication within a team, you’re in the right place.
In this article, we’re sharing the benefits of open communication and tips on how to encourage communication in your teams.
Ready to start communicating like a pro?
The Importance of Open Communication in Teams
We’ll talk about creating an open communication culture, but first, let’s kick-off the conversation with the benefits of open and honest communication.
1. Fosters Inclusion
Open communication helps to foster inclusion within your team and makes employees feel like they belong.
When you communicate with your employees, you’re telling them that you think they’re valuable and deserve to hear the information. Staying in the loop with company conversations gives employees the impression that they’re part of the bigger picture.
By informing them, you may receive constructive feedback to improve the company; employees have insights you may be too close to see. Bottom line: your employees will be more invested when you intentionally communicate with them and ask for their opinions.
2. Engages Employees
Employee engagement is the level of commitment, and connection employees feel toward your company. Highly engaged employees will perform at a higher level and stay with organizations longer.
Communicating regularly with your employees is an easy and personal way to engage them. Here are a few examples of how to engage employees in communication:
- Greet them by name when you see them.
- Ask them questions about their personal life.
- Encourage them on something they did well.
Don’t let employees go unnoticed, sliding in and out of the office door (or on- and offline). Engage your team members in meaningful ways, communicating that you value their presence and contributions to the company.
3. Creates Unity
In the workplace, you’re trying to keep everyone on the same page. Working towards undefined or different goals isn’t a great way to foster team unity. The more effectively you communicate, the easier it is for everyone on the team to work together to reach a shared goal.
Creating unity can also lead to greater accountability. When employees are given clear expectations, they can help each other stay the course.
The above list isn’t exhaustive, but it should give you a small taste of what to expect when you communicate openly in the workplace.
How to Improve Communication Within a Team
If you want to encourage communication and reap its benefits, you need to know how to be a better communicator.
Below we’ve listed some of the top ways to walk the talk when it comes to open communication.
Start at the Top
Open communication from leadership is the starting point for honest communication in the workplace. If you want a workplace practice to become routine, it needs to start at the top. When managers and other top-level executives model communication best practices, it helps employees see communication in action and internalize it as a value.
You can start building better, more open communication in the workplace through leadership training. Managers and leaders may not inherently know how to encourage open and honest communication in the workplace. A leadership training program can help your workplace leaders understand the importance of open communication.
One of the topics in our Management and Leadership Training Program is “Communication and Interpersonal Skills.”Give managers the tools and training they need to model open and honest communication among their teams.
Conduct Anonymous Surveys
Conducting anonymous surveys is an excellent way to encourage open and honest communication in the workplace. Anonymity allows employees to freely share thoughts and opinions that otherwise they’d keep secret.
You should view anonymous surveys as a tool to gather information and help pinpoint issues that need addressing. But be warned, anonymous surveys can be a double-edged sword as they can bring out some serious accusations and harsh criticism.
However, private surveys keep managers from retaliating quickly and saying things openly that would otherwise hinder future employee honesty. Weigh the pros and cons to determine whether anonymous surveys will be beneficial to your work environment and company culture.
Provide Employee Training
Employee training alone will openly communicate that you value people’s careers and professional development. Employee training further opens the door for personal communication between you and your employees as you support their learning journey.
You could even consider offering employee training specific to professional communication.
Once the training starts, try to convey to your employees that you welcome their questions and feedback. If you use a learning management system to house the training, you can:
- Ask employees frequent questions about the training through assessments.
- Answer employee training questions quickly on the platform.
- Offer “office hours” where employees can meet with you.
- Request feedback when employees finish a course.
Employee training creates a shared space of learning and communication between managers and employees.
Coach Your Employees
Coaching employees is similar to training, only with more intentionality. Training is usually geared toward a large group of people, while coaching focuses on a single person (or a select few people).
When you coach an employee, you can ask more specific questions about their role, what they’re thinking, and identify personal areas of improvement. Personal communication builds profound relationships and trust between you and the employees you coach. They’ll begin to feel more comfortable asking questions or sharing thoughts with you.
Coaching provides an excellent opportunity to encourage communication on a one-to-one level. It’s a powerful way to develop team influencers who understand the importance of communication in teams.
Request and Acknowledge Employee Input
Asking for and acknowledging employee input is one of the best ways to understand how to improve communication within a team.
Not every idea or solution an employee has will be a winner, but it’s still valuable to ask them what they think about a problem or particular issue.
Asking for employee input will accomplish three things:
- Shows that you care about your employees’ thoughts.
- Models open communication from the top down.
- Makes employees more comfortable and inclined to come to you on their own.
After you ask for an employee’s input, you need to acknowledge it even if you don’t implement it. Acknowledgment can be as simple as repeating their idea back to them to ensure you understand what they’re communicating. Or, it can be as impactful as telling top-level management about their idea to take into serious consideration.
Need Help Promoting Honest Communication in the Workplace?
From fostering inclusion to engaging employees and creating unity, the benefits of open communication in the workplace abound.
By starting with leadership, conducting surveys, and engaging with employees through training and coaching, you can effectively teach and model open communication at work. As you encourage honest communication in your employees, it will become a more prominent part of your teams.
Still unsure of how to encourage open and honest communication in the workplace?
At Unboxed Training & Technology, we can help you improve your employees’ soft skills like communication and hard skills like selling. When you invest in and encourage communication internally, you may be surprised at the improvements in your customers’ experience, too.
Our custom training solutions provide your managers and employees with company-specific content; nothing generic or boring about it.
Contact our Consulting Team to get the ball rolling on creative ways to start encouraging open communication in your organization today.