Internal communication perils and solutions for small businesses

Your tight-knit organization might have different challenges from those of a global corporation, but your staffers still deserve clear, timely information and direction. Here’s some guidance.

Communication is a crucial factor in any organization’s success.

Small businesses have the benefit of having smaller teams and closer contact across departments. They can take advantage of that by enhancing the way they communicate.

Healthy communication practices can increase efficiency, boost employee morale, inspire creative thinking and give team members a sense of autonomy. All these factors help stimulate business growth and provide a productive working environment.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to end up committing communication mistakes that undermine your company’s productivity. Nobody is born an expert communicator, but learning to master communication in your company is the sign of a competent leader.

Look below to see whether you’re committing any of these common communication mistakes:

Relying on email

A lot of businesses use email for most of their communications—and that’s a problem. Did you know that the average person receives 120-150 emails a day? It can be easy for your messages to get lost in your team members’ inboxes. If it’s a particularly urgent communication, email can be one of the worst channels to use. Why not consider other options?

Text messaging can be the ideal platform for communicating with your teammates. Texts have a 99 percent open rate, and most texts are read within three minutes of being sent. Also, 81 percent of people who text use it for business purposes, and 91 percent of this group send text messages to colleagues. Texts are perfect for quick and simple communication.

With business texting services you can send and receive SMS messages online, giving you the convenience of email with the efficiency of SMS. In this case study for RIDS Limited, its director said that “sending text messages through my computer is faster than doing it from my mobile device. It also allows me to keep track of all my text messages and whether they have been delivered and read.”

Compartmentalizing versus oversharing

These are two extremes to avoid. By closing off communication with the rest of the team, you lose the sense of teamwork, and it begins to feel like everyone’s working on her own private project.

In small businesses, team members know each other and can work together. Making sure team members are aware of each other’s functions and reminding the entire team of your organization’s mission can help create a more cohesive effort.

On the other hand, it’s not important that all communications are shared with every team member all the time. That can overwhelm employees with information that’s not relevant to their work. Find the balance of appropriate sharing to coordinate your teams and overall vision.

Failing to address relevant external factors

Sometimes an issue beyond your control will affect your business. For small businesses, larger competitors offering the same product or service for lower prices can pose a threat. Sometimes another small business poses serious competition and siphons off your revenue. Maybe a new technological invention renders your service obsolete. Any number of factors can compromise your business’s well-being.

In any of these cases, it’s important to be open with your team members, so they’re not left guessing about the future of the organization. Listen to their thoughts and feedback on the subject, and collaborate on a strategy to overcome such challenges. If you ignore the subject or avoid talking about it, you lose the benefit of group thinking and support.

Not being receptive to communication

Small-business owners set the tone for internal communication. It’s important to make your messages clear and make it easy for employees to understand what you need from them. Being positive and receptive to responses from employees makes it easier for them to approach you with questions, feedback or problems. Fostering an environment of sharing can stimulate business growth and help stem problems before they become calamitous.

Being pessimistic, dismissive or failing to respond to messages will shut down communication channels and make it difficult for employees to come to you with new ideas or for advice. If you think positive reinforcement isn’t important, consider the results of a study by Globoforce, which found that 69 percent of employees say they would work harder if they felt appreciated.

As you develop communication practices in your small business, be open to new communication methods such as texting, and pay attention to balancing the amount of information that’s shared among team members.

Tackle challenges head on with proactive communication with the entire team, and create an environment that fosters an exchange of ideas and a platform for voicing concerns.

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