Does each meeting have a clear agenda?
The sad truth is that many people have either said or heard the following:
“This could have been an email.”
“Why is he calling – can’t he just message me?”
“Can we take this offline?”
While there are instances when a meeting is most appropriate – one-on-ones, brainstorming, serious discussions – many hate the feeling of wasting an hour on a call when they could have been punching out a proposal.
Are those feedback-heavy, hard conversations at work face-to-face?
It’s easiest to fire off feedback, especially negative, over email or instant message, but that convenience comes at a cost. Employees may overthink or misinterpret the conversation.
For example, do these sentences read differently in your mind?
Are you going to ask him about it? | Are you going to ask him about it???
Hey Annie, will you handle this? Thanks! | Annie, please handle this. Thanks.
Some may interpret ending a sentence with an exclamation point to be friendly and enthusiastic, while others may find it unprofessional and excessive. Many feel ending sentences with periods is unfriendly and too formal, but others have been doing so their entire career and feel it is polite.
A video or in-person conversation will eliminate much confusion for those important conversations.
Are managers promoting a mutual feedback environment?
According to a study by Bambee, 60% of participants reported feeling intimidated to go to a manager with an issue they were having.
Another study by Paychex found that 54% of respondents feel uncomfortable talking to their managers and supervisors about mental health, and, sadly, 29% of them believe opening up may cost them a promotion. If an employee cannot communicate feelings of burnout, that is likely to affect their productivity, mood, and, worst case, can lead to resignation or termination… all of which are terrible, preventable outcomes.
And the problem is sadly mutual: Harris Poll found that 69% of managers shared they are often uncomfortable communicating with their employees.
It is impossible to have a healthy work environment when both parties cannot be open and honest about their work, stress levels, and opportunities for improvement.
A simple, quickly implementable way to improve communication in the workplace is to promote one-on-one meetings in which mutual feedback is encouraged. In the beginning, it may be awkward, especially for the employee to provide feedback to their manager, but both parties are fighting for the same goal: an improvement in work quality, morale, and retention. Those hard conversations will pay off.
Is everyone clear on the company and team goals?
The shocking truth: over 80% of small business owners don’t keep track of business goals (Staples National Small Business Survey). If the owners don’t have goals, how are any of their employees able to know if their efforts are successful, and how to tweak their processes if not?
It can be very demotivating for an employee to not understand the effects of their output, negative or positive.
Spending a couple of hours looking at analytics and creating KPIs that employees can regularly check to measure success is crucial for a successful, efficient business. With goals, everyone is accountable, has a purpose, and there is nothing better than the entire company celebrating big wins at the end of the quarter.
Do employees have clear “focus time” where they can work without interruption?
Nothing grinds the gears of a busy, stressed employee than when their coworker keeps trying to chat about their weekend. While it is important and healthy to build rapport with colleagues, there are times when uninterrupted quiet time is necessary. We suggest blocking off a few meeting-free hours per week in which employees can close Slack, not respond to emails, and be able to focus on their work. At KCare, we have implemented full focus days as well as blocks of a few hours, and the results have spoken for themselves.
Efficient communication does not always feel intuitive, but there are simple ways to improve communication at work. It may require adjusting, but over time, your organization will likely find an increase in employee satisfaction, which leads to higher productivity and retention rate… all of which will greatly please everyone from the newbies to the executive board.