You will surely not be surprised to hear that communication is about connections between people. Therefore, to foster communication in your company, try to be always on a lookout for ways to build connections between people. Consider team outings, group lunches and open office layouts to bring people into contact. This should help you get rid of the “us vs. them” mentality.
Open communication should be a solid part of your company culture. Make it crystal clear to the new hires that open communication is desirable, mutual and expected. Soon, they will not only incorporate it into their working process, but also seek it in others. Just like with implementing any other principle into your company culture, make sure that the managers are leading by example. Employees’ willingness to be open is directly proportional to their managers’. Every act of idea sharing, suggestion-offering or concern-expressing should be met with respect and positive reinforcement.
If you do not have them yet, consider putting regular staff meetings in place. When done properly, staff meetings ensure that each employee is in alignment with the team, which consequently impacts the outcome of a project on hand. Employees with clear roles, responsibilities and deadlines are more productive and easy to hold accountable. As a complimentary tool, you might choose to issue a regular memo with information about current projects, deadlines, achievements and changes.
Some matters are in their nature not suitable for staff meetings. For those occasions when discipline, complaints, conflicts or compensation need to be discussed, you can set up one-on-one meetings between an employee and a manager. Moreover, one-on-one meetings offer employees the opportunity to privately discuss personal goals and objectives.
Have areal open door policy. Although often preached, it is hardly ever practiced. Because many managers focus on the open door part, they tend to forget the underlying condition of the open mind. One means nothing without the other, and so make sure that people are not only welcomed to voice their opinions, complaints and suggestions, but that they will also be actively heard and responded to with respect and honesty.
Quality communication requires certain degree of vulnerability on both sides, which can, and will, make people uncomfortable. But try to remind everyone that the reward is greater than the perceived danger. Because the real value of open communication is in that it gives everyone equal participation in the success of the business.
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