Quality communication between your firm and your clients is simply good business—not to mention communication between your clients and the media—but don’t overlook the value of good communication within your firm.
Communicating well with employees offers numerous benefits:
- Enhanced morale.
- Greater creativity and productivity.
- Opportunities to instill long-term loyalty.
- Fewer errors due to confusion or misunderstandings.
Texting and email are the most convenient (and popular) means of workplace communication, but each comes with significant drawbacks. Face-to-face conversations may require more time and attention, but the payoff is almost always worth it.
While you determine what form of communication is best, keep these tips in mind:
1. Share information whenever possible. The people who work for you can’t do their jobs effectively if they lack critical information. When you keep employees in the loop, they feel they have a greater stake in projects’ outcomes and your firm’s long-term success.
Of course, sharing information includes bad news and potentially sensitive financial details. But when employees are aware of this information, they may actually come up with possible solutions.
2. Be clear and concise. However you choose to communicate, focus on being clear and concise. Key points can get lost in a long-winded speech or ambiguous language. Even if you’re accustomed to using acronyms or other forms of shorthand, try not to use them when you talk to employees. Jargon has no place in effective communication.
3. Modify your message for the appropriate audience. You don’t talk the same way to fellow PR executives as you do to customers or suppliers. Tailor your message to employees as well, emphasizing what’s most important.
4. Be positive. You set the tone for communications within your firm, so maintain a positive tone as much as possible. Employees will be more likely to absorb your messages (even the difficult ones) if they feel you’re upbeat, supportive and focused on the team.
5. Ensure meetings are worth everyone’s time. You can communicate a lot in a meeting as long as you’re efficient and respect everyone’s need to get back to work. When you or someone else hosts a meeting, make sure there’s an agenda, that the meeting begins and ends on time and that employees walk away with clearly defined action steps.
What form of communication is best for your firm? When is face-to-face communication better than email or texting? Here are the answers:
1. Email works for minor operational stuff. Do you need to remind employees about a forthcoming project discussion, or notify an individual about a client meeting? Email works best for these messages.
2. Use texting for quick, yes-or-no messages. Texting is great when you need to ask or answer a yes-or-no question, as well as for other quick business, such as confirming a meeting.
3. Face-to-face conversations get the best results. In any delicate situation or when sharing confidential information, it’s best to communicate face to face. Email or texting is never an appropriate method for addressing a behavioral problem or mistake in client relations. A face-to-face encounter increases the likelihood that the other person will understand your message. It also demonstrates that you’re committed to treating employees like adults whom you respect. This alone builds trust and loyalty.
4. Learn how to listen. Active listening means withholding judgment while an employee is talking (and avoiding a response until she’s finished), as well as paying attention to nonverbal cues such as tone of voice, facial expressions and other body language. It also includes being able to paraphrase what you’ve heard and restate it, thus ensuring everyone understands the discussion.
5. Take action. If you invite employees to speak openly and offer constructive feedback, be prepared to take action on what you hear. Nothing discourages employee engagement more than feeling like what you said fell on deaf ears.