Professional Education and Career Blog

How to Effectively Communicate With Your Employees

communicationIf you are a manager, clear communication can be one of the most challenging aspects of effectively administering your organization. Communicating with employees happens every day in a variety of ways: memos, project plans, emails, and of course, direct interaction. In fact, communication happens so often that it’s easy to get complacent about whether our daily communication is effective, and whether our messages are being received in the way we intend.

The Importance of Communication

It cannot be overstated how important communication is to a highly functional organization. It can be the difference between an organization that runs smoothly and efficiently, and one that hiccups along with major problems. Your employees not only use the information they receive to determine how they’re going to run the daily business of the enterprise, but it influences how they interact with customers, suppliers and other external entities.

An underrated aspect of clear communication is how it affects employee morale and how they view working for the company. Few things make an employee more frustrated than feeling like they’re not sure what direction the company is going, what their role is, or whether the work they are doing has relevance to the strategy. Studies show that the happiest and most productive employees have clear objectives and feel connected to the goals of the company.

Achieving Great Communication

Here are some tips for clearly communicating with your employees.

  • Avoid Jargon and “Corporate Speak” – Many employees will nod their head as though they’re hearing great wisdom when the “word of the week” comes through in a memo, but often it causes an internal eye-roll, and thoughts of, “But what does that mean?” Avoid “buzzwordization” and stick to clear language. It’s nearly always going to be the case that everyone has a different definition of the latest corporate term.
  • Give Them The Punch Line Up Front – It’s tempting in a memo to want to lay all the groundwork first that goes into your point, so that your bottom line will have maximum impact. That’s a great way to tell a story at a party, but it’s a poor way to communicate information. Many people will tune out the beginning information and skip to the end anyway. If you look at a scientific paper, they will always have an “abstract” up front, and corporate reports often have an “executive summary.” There’s a reason for that. Tell people what target you’re aiming at, then give them the gory details.
  • Don’t Waste People’s Time. Time is the most valuable thing in life, and that’s especially true in a company. Always consider whether the communication you’re sending is worth the time, and that’s doubly true when it comes to phone conversations or in-person conversations. Keep things as short as possible. If your memo is going to a large number of people, put extra time in to making it concise and to the point. Prioritize your points so you don’t lose the attention of your recipients.
  • grouptalkExplain the Big Picture. Often. When communicating information, use these events as opportunities to tie everything back to the bigger strategy of the company. Not only does this help put the information in context, but it also reminds everyone of what the overall goals and strategies are in a natural way. This is not to say that it’s an opportunity to nag people about the goals – the primary objective should be to put the information into the strategic framework.
  • Measure the Effectiveness of Your Communication. This means to follow-up and see if people understood what you meant to communicate. This might be checking to see if projects are on track with your understanding of how things are supposed to work. Or it might be a spot-check with your customers to see if that recent policy change regarding customer communication was effective. It’s important to not necessarily blame the receiver of the communication if things don’t seem to be going the way you expect. People are not machines, and it’s important to tailor our communication strategy for what actually works, rather than what we think ought to work or what we wish would work.

A Difficult Task

There’s no doubt that effective communication is one of the most difficult aspects of management. And it’s not something that can be solved once and for all – it’s a continuous process of improving and evaluating what works, and replacing what doesn’t.