A key part of good employee communication is actually making sure you are communicating the right information. You might be talking to staff all the time, and have regular team meetings, but are you actually telling employees the things you need to?
Most of the communication in your business is likely to be done through line managers. In small businesses there is often a certain amount of direct communication from the business owner/managing director as well, but line managers are the ones with day to day contact, and provide that link between senior management and team members.
But what information should your line managers be talking to employees about?
Corporate goals, objectives and structure:
Do employees clearly understand what the organisation is about – its key purpose, vision and strategy? What about the structure – do they know what roles other individuals/teams play and how they fit?
This stuff is easily overlooked in the day to day business of getting the job done, but should be clearly provided, not just to new employees at induction, but to everyone on a regular basis. Reinforcing understanding of organisational goals and strategy helps employees feel part of the business, leading to improved job performance and engagement.
Policies and procedures:
Any organisation will have a certain number of rules, policies, procedures and ‘ways of doing things’ which employees need to understand. You might have an employee handbook with all/some of these in, or other written documents/online resources. How you collate this information is a matter of considering what works for you, but the key is that you must make sure employees understand any rules, procedures, practices or policies with which they are expected to comply. This means they need to be written down somewhere and easily accessible. Word of mouth/ad hoc ‘when it comes up’ communication of this stuff doesn’t do the job!
Expectations of employees in their role:
This would usually involve job descriptions, but regardless of how you do it employees need to clearly understand the duties they should perform and the standards expected of them. This obviously applies to new staff but equally applies to established staff. Roles and responsibilities and how they interact with other jobs in the organisation often evolve, so a job description given to new starters on day one is not sufficient.
Feedback on performance:
As well as understanding expectations and duties, employees need to understand how well they are doing in their role and what they can improve upon. Regular constructive feedback is essential here, and the temptation to only pick them up on things they are doing wrong should be avoided. Positive reinforcement of the things team members are doing well is vital if you want more of the same! Make sure feedback is as specific as possible, and includes examples, so that employees clearly understand what they are doing right and what (and how) they can improve.
Any change can be unsettling, however minor, so communicating during change is particularly vital. For some types of change, formal consultation may be necessary, with opinions/suggestions sought and considered, but even where formal consultation isn’t involved, managing any change effectively depends on ensuring employees understand what’s happening, how it may affect them and receive reassurance/answers to concerns.
Day to day chat:
Informal communication can be just as important. If you want staff to feel engaged, valued, and confident that they can raise concerns they may have, taking time to engage in some informal chat with team members goes a long way.
Do you take time to greet them in the morning and say goodbye when they leave? Do you know the name of their partner and children? Do you know when their birthday is and make a point of acknowledging it? Do you ask them how they are feeling if they have been off sick recently? These sorts of things are easy to do and go a long way, but in the busy-ness of doing the job can get overlooked.
Obviously a balance needs to be struck between showing an interest and interfering, and some employees may be more or less willing to discuss these things than others, so take your cue from them.
If you want some advice about how to effectively communicate the right information to employees do get in touch.