Communication is the backbone of workplace collaboration, but by the same token, communication problems can impede workflow or even bring it to a grinding halt. Over 9 in 10 employers consider communications skills more essential in hiring candidates than college majors, according to Hart Research Associates.
With communication so vital to business workflow, it’s imperative for business owners and managers to take whatever steps they can to improve how their team communicates. Here are three ways to improve your team’s communication.
Start with Good Verbal Communications Skills
Good communication starts with good verbal communication. Sandler, which provides business communication training, recommends a number of simple strategies to improve workplace verbal communication. Giving others undivided attention, whether talking face-to-face or over the phone or internet, helps ensure that verbal communication is understood and important verbal and nonverbal cues aren’t missed.
Making an effort to listen is an important part of giving undivided attention, and can go a long ways toward avoiding misunderstanding. Being aware of body language is also important, with subtleties such as eye contact and nodding helping reinforce good communication. For clarification and documentation, it’s prudent to follow up verbal meetings with written summaries and action plans to make sure that everyone got the same takeaways from the conversation.
Set Smart Communications Policies
Establishing standard operating procedures can also help improve your internal communications, says organizational communications strategist Dawn Springlett. Standard operating procedures help keep your team’s communications consistent by making sure everyone knows what steps to follow.
Springlett suggests that you start by determining which communications processes are suitable for standardization. As a rule of thumb, types of communications that occur frequently are good candidates for standardization. For instance, if you send out project management notifications on a regular basis, standardizing how these are handled would be an efficient move. Once you know which communications you want to standardize, write down the steps involved in each one. You can then use this to create templates, which can save you time when putting your communications procedures into practice.
Use the Right Technical Tools
Your selection of technical tools can greatly impact your communications efficiency. A common problem is using too many communications tools, which results in information being distributed across multiple platforms instead of being accessible in one place. A solution to this problem is to use a unified communications platform, which uses a single interface to coordinate all your communications channels. Leading unified communications tools include Microsoft’s Skype for Business, Cisco Unified Communications, Polycom, Nextiva Office, RingCentral Office and 8×8 Virtual Office.
To support your communications tools, it’s also important to have a network fast enough to deliver reliability and avoid lag. 4G is the current standard for wireless communication speed, but leading telecommunications providers are beginning to implement 5G technology, which will deliver peak data rates of up to 20 Gbps, twenty times faster than today’s peak speeds for 4G. Today’s cutting-edge mobile processors are designed to be 5G-ready when telecommunications companies start rolling out 5G later this year.
Solid verbal communications skills, smart communications policies and suitable technical tools are three keys to effective workplace communication. Following these guidelines can help your team communicate more clearly, with less misunderstanding, for smoother collaboration.