According to a 2016 survey by Wakefield Research, the vast majority of employees agree that they could be more productive if they knew more about their colleagues’ work. So, who doesn’t want a more productive workforce?
Need to Know Information
Employees need to know about their own goals and responsibilities, but they also need to understand how their tasks fit into the bigger picture. This goes beyond simply knowing the basic functions of each department and employee, especially in smaller businesses where employees wear a lot of hats. Other teams or individuals may have a looming deadline or a higher volume of work than is obvious. Sharing information about current needs and resources enables employees to prioritize needs and tasks in a way that respects and supports the workloads of others. This leads to a more harmonious working environment.
Of course, keeping people in the loop can take time, and some methods lose their punch over time. That’s why it’s important to diversify how we communicate. So how can we keep employees in the loop?
Face to Face Time
When it comes to effective communication, nothing beats face-to-face. While this approach can seem to be a hassle – especially with ever-growing to-do lists – don’t overlook this powerful option. Humans evolved to communicate this way. In addition to the clarity that talking face-to-face provides, it can actually be a time-saver. Imagine not having to explain to every third person who stops by your desk that you’re working on a time-sensitive project. Group meetings also ensure that everyone receives the same information at the same time, avoiding unneeded repetition.
Face-to-face communication doesn’t have to be time-consuming, however. A five-minute meeting with leadership each morning can ensure that team members stay informed about current priorities and adjust their workflows accordingly. Just be sure that these briefings stay on track. The goal is to provide information, clearly and concisely, not debate priorities or brainstorm future projects.
Going High Tech
Of course, there are times when face-to-face communication simply isn’t an option. Fortunately, technology offers multiple solutions:
- Instant messaging offers an efficient alternative to overloaded email inboxes. Many services also allow users to archive texts, providing that all-important CYA.
- Video chats have the same benefits as face-to-face communication, without the need to travel to a central location. There are many free or reasonably priced options available.
- Phone calls may be less popular with younger employees but still offer many advantages over text-based communication. Most offices have one on every desk. Don’t be afraid to use them!
- Intranet solutions provide a central location for posting announcements and sharing documents.
- Alerts and notifications are available for many software applications. As tasks are added or completed, the tools you already use can also update team members on current statuses.
- Email is still a tried and true option for communicating information, especially if team members take advantage of sorting rules, priority tags and read receipts.
It’s important to remember, however, that new options for communication lose some of their efficiency as they become more popular. After all, email was once seen as the lightning-fast way to get a reader’s attention – at least compared to sending letters through the mail. Different tools may work better for certain people or in certain situations. Therefore, a company needs an arsenal of communication methods available to keep a busy workplace running smoothly. It’s essential to evaluate the effectiveness of current tools on a regular basis and make changes as needed to keep everyone in the loop.
For great tips on how to improve communication, check out Brandie Hinen’s Spot On Insurance podcast, Conversations for Action: Promoting Implementation and Accountability.