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Let's face it; communication is one of the most important issues in the workplace. Good communication helps everyone on your team (and you) to feel heard and understood, and as a result, everyone benefits from a positive, encouraging and successful environment. Conversely, ineffective communication brings about the opposite results. Ideas fall flat due to lack of follow-through. You and your team feel frustrated, unacknowledged and misunderstood, and morale declines.

Leadership sets the tone in any business. While improving communication may seem like a daunting task, it can be done, and you can successfully lead the way. Start employing our five strategies for improved workplace communication to increase understanding, improve the workplace environment and promote team spirit. As these natural by-products of effective communication take place, improved success will follow.

Effective Workplace Communication Strategies

1. Give Your Undivided Attention. Whether you're in a group meeting or with one employee, offering your full focus to those you're with will greatly improve how you're received. How often have you been in a conversation with someone who kept looking at their smartphone or elsewhere while talking or listening to you? Lack of focus devalues the conversation causing people to tune out. Maintain eye contact during conversations and meetings, and put all other things aside to visually convey your focus and encourage each individual to stay present.

2. Take Time to Listen. Don't monopolize the conversation. After a while, people will start tuning you out and your message will be lost. Be frugal with your words, avoiding fluff and fillers. Pause after important points to take questions or check for understanding. This will help your staff members feel that they play an active role in the conversation.

3. Be Mindful of How You're Communicating. Your words are only a fraction of the message you relay to staff members. Body language and tonality contribute heavily toward the effectiveness with which your communication is received. Maintain a relaxed stance and facial expression while speaking with employees. Rest your arms by your sides rather than crossing them over your chest as this is a defensive posture. Make eye contact, smile when it's appropriate and nod your head affirmatively while listening.

4. Follow Up in Writing. No matter how compelling your meeting was, it's probable that those in attendance will not remember everything that was shared. Prior to the meeting, designate a person to take notes. Assimilate this information into a bullet-pointed email to send to your team as a follow-up and refresher. Short, concise notes will keep important information fresh in people's minds.

5. Inform and Inspire. Communication is a form of information exchange. Explaining and clarifying your thoughts and ideas is important in a leadership role. But passing on information to your team is only half of the equation. As a leader, it's vital to your business that your communication efforts inspire your team as much as they educate them. Plan ahead for meetings and conversations so you can effectively mix information and inspiration. If this is particularly challenging for you, the support of a mentor or coach can be helpful.

The effects of improved communication may or may not appear overnight. Stick with it for the long haul, and eventually your business will reap the rewards of better communication in the workplace. Check in with a business peer or mentor whenever possible to talk about how things are going and brainstorm ways to continue improving communication between you and your employees.

Posted June 14, 2016

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