Positive communication can maximize business success
Simple, yet crucial, ways to create a healthy culture of communication
If you were a fly on the wall of your company for an entire month, what would you witness regarding the verbal and non-verbal communication between staff members — in particular, between management and non-management?
Every company has its own culture, and communication plays a significant role in the day-to-day operations and the resulting success or demise of the organization.
Jim Rohn, late author and motivational speaker, is quoted as saying, “If you just communicate, you can get by. But if you communicate skillfully, you can work miracles.” In the case of business, these miracles result in enhanced productivity and decreased turnover. Why? Because employees want to be treated with respect, and although that may seem to be a common-sense expectation, respect toward all employees can be spotty or completely absent in some companies. This results in higher stress, stifling growth and creativity.
Here are some simple, yet crucial, ways to create a healthy culture of communication:
- Welcome new employees with a positive bang. Do you remember your first day at a new job, hoping it would be a good experience? Most of a great first day relies heavily on communication with others during those first few hours. Put a plan in place to make every new employee’s first day positive, supportive and welcoming to set the tone for a successful relationship.
- Greetings matter. Do you make a point of greeting your employees each day with a “Good morning” or a sincere “How are you doing?” Do you say, “Good night” or “Have a good evening” after they’ve put in an honest day’s work? This doesn’t mean you have to seek them out and feel unnatural with your efforts. However, skipping greetings and simply jumping into a work conversation can leave employees feeling unappreciated and create a disconnect in the valuable relationship-building process. What is not said can speak louder than what
we choose to say.
- Set the tone. More often than not, employees follow the leader. Your words and actions communicate what you want the company culture to be. Show your employees, by example, an atmosphere of respect and kindness. Consciously or sub-consciously, leaders sometimes mistakenly believe a friendly environment will result in employees not showing them respect and slacking off in their work. Studies have shown the opposite to be true. We usually “get what we give.” Therefore, the more attention you give your staff, the more attention they will give to the company.
- Welcome open communication. Invite employees to positively and respectfully speak their minds on a daily basis, in order to work as a team toward clear company goals. Allow employees to share thoughts that may not always be easy to hear, but will avoid employees slowly becoming bitter due to feeling they are not allowed to contribute honestly. As the saying goes, nothing grows in our comfort zones. We need to be open to receiving constructive criticism if we want our employees to do the same. One significant benefit? Reduced costly stress and resentment in the workplace.
- Get invested emotionally. Some may be quick to say, “I can’t get too emotionally involved with my employees.” Naturally, the relationship needs to be a healthy business relationship with boundaries. However, we are emotional beings and our society typically has the opposite problem. Managers neglect to invest adequate time in getting to know their employees as the unique people they are and too many earn a failing grade at building relationships with them. This is proven by studies showing half of all employees who quit their jobs do so because of a poor relationship with their direct supervisor. Employers who truly care enough to get to know their staff will be rewarded with a high degree of loyalty and productivity. Invest in them emotionally as part of your “work family.” Additionally, include some fun in your interactions with them; it’s called work-life balance for a reason.
- Be aware of non-verbal communication. Our body language, including facial expressions, often tells a louder story than our words. Making eye contact, smiling, turning our bodies toward people when they are speaking, and unfolding our arms sends a strong message of inclusion and acceptance — key elements of healthy relationships.
- Seek out and address negative communicators. Employees who communicate with a slant toward the negative, those who lack empathy and staff who are just flat-out bullies will undermine your efforts to take the company in a successful direction. Company culture becomes toxic and the cost is high due to reduced productivity, higher turnover and increased risk of lawsuit and workplace violence. Be quick to retrain, hold accountable or terminate employees who lack positive communication skills.
- Thank employees on a regular basis. In our culture, saying “Thank you” is highly valued, especially in a work environment. Business leaders expect their staff to thank customers and make them feel special; successful managers know this is key to repeat business. The same holds true for employees. On a primal level, we need to feel appreciated and valued. Regularly thanking employees in a sincere manner helps to achieve this very important element of positive communication.
What areas of your business can be improved through a greater focus on positive communication? Invest in trainings that will maximize the communication skills of your leaders and staff. The benefits are significant and will certainly have a positive impact on your clients.
Carol Phillips, author of “52 Simple Ways to Health,” is a Manchester-based health and wellness expert. She can be reached through her website at HealthDesignNH.com.