How Managers Can Solve Workplace Communication Problems

Why Are We Still Talking About Communication?

Studies show that a lack of communication contributes to employee disengagement, job dissatisfaction, and ultimately turnover. As managers, you need a communication system dedicated to engaging employees, promoting pride in the company, and positioning yourself as a leader.

Repeatedly, employees say they are:

  • Unaware of their company’s mission and strategy
  • Unsure if or how they bring value to the organization
  • Dissatisfied with the frequency of performance feedback

What exactly is it that your employees want to know? And more importantly, why is the lack of communication an on-going problem?

To help us get to the bottom of the communication dilemma, we need to break communication down into its three critical components of purpose, message, and means. Then we can work to fix the problems.

Communication Breakdown

Communication is defined as the successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings; the imparting or exchanging of information or news; a letter or message containing information or news.

To put it another way:

  • Why – The purpose is to share something with you because you might be interested or have a need to know.
  • What – The message contains information or news that you may find relevant, interesting, educational, or impactful.
  • How – Through some means of transmission or conveyance.

Managers are the Solution

As a manager, you play a critical role in fixing the ‘lack of communication’ issues in your workplace. You can fix these problems by:

  • Conducting weekly team meetings with an agenda that includes:
    • Reviewing last week’s accomplishments and next week’s goals
    • Repeating the company’s purpose and strategy
    • Reminding the team of their importance in executing the strategy
  • Conducting monthly one-on-one coaching meetings to discuss each individual’s purpose, priorities, and performance

Repetition works – ask any branding or marketing executive. It establishes you as a leader on a mission to achieve results with and through your employees. After all, you connect your employees to the corporate vision, mission, and strategy. And even though there may not be any ‘news’ to report, it is vital to repeat, review, and remind employees about what the company stands for and where it is headed. This thoughtful approach to keeping employees in the loop provides a foundation for accountability for yourself and your employees.

The Behavioral Component

We cannot neglect to address the behavioral component of communication because your behavior style is synonymous with your communication style. I’m referring to behavior styles and their assessment tools such as DISC. I am a certified provider of DISC assessments, workshops, and consulting. Over the years I have witnessed the impact behavior styles have on communication, leadership, and results.

Specifically, you must remember that 68% of the general population is people-oriented. These are individuals who have a high (I) influence factor and high (S) steadiness factor. They represent 28% and 40% of the population respectively.

Collectively, people-oriented individuals want to be included, to be heard, and to be part of a team. Regular team meetings that give them direction, voice, validation, and confirmation will engender engagement, lift morale, and promote loyalty. I address behavior styles more specifically in my blog post, Accountability, Behavior Styles, and Billions?

Communication is the Foundation for Accountability

The most important part of the communication definition is its origin. It comes from the Latin verb communicare which means ‘to share.’ When you conduct regular meetings with consistent messaging you create a line of communication that tethers employees to you and the company.

I highly recommend using the Performance Grid as a foundation for monthly coaching meetings. I introduced it in a previous blog series. Here is the grid for your convenience, but you can find more information and instruction in the How to Achieve Workplace Accountability-Step 4 of 4.

Skills and Motivation Grid

The Performance Grid

Produce and keep a copy for each employee. Place each employee where you believe they are.

Ask each employee to place themselves on the grid.

Discuss any discrepancies and mutually agree on a final placement.

Plan development opportunities for moving toward the upper right quadrant.

Use their grid location as a foundation for coaching sessions. Update grid position monthly as performance improves.

Review and update monthly as an efficient and effective performance measuring and monitoring tool.

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