Whether you have meetings frequently or rarely, your team probably doesn’t communicate as effectively as you could. Without effective communication, companies will inevitably struggle to keep employees happy, productive and engaged. This is especially true when entire organizations are suddenly working remotely.
Even before COVID-19 hit, companies were experiencing engagement issues. Research from Gallup found that while employee engagement peaked in 2019, 52 percent of workers fell into the “not engaged” category. Employees who aren’t engaged, who show up for work but are mentally checked out, or the ones who can harm your business most.
Communication is a huge part of engagement. Employees are more likely to bring their A game when they feel connected to their organization and they’re consistently given the information they need to perform their roles. To solve your team’s communication woes, start with these critical areas.
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Great communication starts with a shared understanding of the facts. When employees aren’t aligned on goals and procedures, even the best workers won’t get ideal results. An environment with multiple, conflicting sources of information will sink your business—get ahead of the issues by implementing a centralized method of fact communication.
Ireland based collaboration software company Teamwork calls this concept the single source of truth. They recommend using a centralized software platform where all employees provide project updates. Employees know that when they visit this centralized resource, they’ll know all the up to date information about the organization’s priorities, projects and tools.
While it will take some time to get the lone wolves in your organization to participate, you should ensure your whole team understands the importance of keeping the single source of truth up to date. Changing habits takes time, but once you make smart documentation the norm, your team will reap the benefits daily.
In a study of nearly 13,000 workers, employee engagement company Emplify found shared values to be one of the most significant factors in workplace engagement. When a company doesn’t establish clear core values and priorities, employees will inevitably do what they think is best, even if it conflicts with colleagues. That attitude can lead to resentment and silos if leaders don’t address.
If your organization doesn’t have closely held core values, you need them, now. Only once you establish these values and get your team to buy-in can you assure that everybody is communicating and collaborating toward shared priorities.
If your company’s purpose doesn’t resonate with employees, it may help to adopt a core value of a team-first mentality and make that the driving force behind your operations. Even if your team doesn’t personally connect to your mission, you can still get top engagement and communication if they feel solidarity with their coworkers.
No matter how big or small your company is, you probably have too many meetings. Few things kill employee engagement faster than unnecessary meetings that only waste employee time.
Follow the advice of scheduling platform Calendar, which encourages determining in advance if a potential meeting is going to be productive, or if it can be eliminated by a quick chat? If the meeting won’t be valuable, delay it or communicate the information in a different way.
Every meeting should include an agenda, a desired outcome and a purpose beyond informational updates. To cut down on unnecessary meetings, empower your employees to say no to appointments that don’t meet these criteria in advance—they’ll appreciate the additional autonomy and time to work.
No matter how well you communicate, no one needs to stay connected every hour of the day. Your team should be empowered to set time to work quietly and develop new strategies without worrying about interruptions.
For some companies, officewide quiet hours make sense. In most cases, though, employees and managers must manage their own schedules. At Acceleration Partners, we have a term we call GSD, or “get stuff done” time, allowing employees to proactively block off time for uninterrupted work.
Also, if your team is suddenly working remotely, it’s important for your team to set a schedule that works for them, while also allowing them to support the team. If employees are juggling work responsibilities and parenting right now, give them autonomy to work outside traditional hours if need be. Also, make sure to give your employees time to unplug after work and recharge during the day with designated breaks—otherwise, employees at home might push through a full day without taking time to reset.
Optimizing your team’s communication pays massive dividends when you get it right, so don’t leave your strategy to chance. Ask your employees about the problems they face; work with teams to create communication solutions that make sense. Make them feel heard, and they’ll gladly buy into better communication.
Robert is the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners. Join 100,000+ global leaders who follow his inspirational weekly newsletter Friday Forward or invite him to speak. Robert is also a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author. His new book, Friday Forward: Inspiration and Motivation to End Your Week Stronger Than It Started, releases September 1, 2020.