Communication: It’s important, and it’s down to you
Since launching Certus Recruitment Group and becoming the MD here in Melbourne, I’ve been on a rollercoaster.
Recruitment is what I know, but there’s so much more to being a leader than being great at the job itself; to use the age old cliché, spinning many plates at once is the least of it.
My team is growing and for this reason, I’ve started thinking about the key things I want the people who are joining our business to experience. For me, a healthy, communicative environment is one of them – I want people to know that in joining my team they’ll be able to voice opinions and concerns, ask questions without feeling like a burden and ultimately communicate what and how they’re feeling about how things are going, what could/should change/improve and whatever else is happening.
Communication is so important to running a business – that is, the way staff interact with you, their leader, but each other as well. We’re developing our plan to ensure ours is a positive culture of communication, and so should you.
Things to think about when considering your communication strategy:
How you communicate
I really like to make sure my staff know that they can communicate with me in different ways. There are different methods different circumstances, and I like to think we mostly exercise common sense to work out what applies on a case-by-case basis.
For instance, if it’s regarding something important which needs to be recorded properly (i.e. annual leave, a formal request etc), the member of staff in question will send an email. This allows us to ensure there’s some process involved, and a paper trail. But if it’s a quick question, something less formal or even something not at all work-related, I’ve always made it clear that they can drop me a text or ping me an instant message, any time of the day or evening.
Phone calls, if I or they are out of the office, are my preferred method of communication; when you can actually hear your employee’s voice and vice versa, there’s no room for anything to become misconstrued or confused along the way. In this day and age, technology makes it easier than ever for us to communicate with our staff – so set the expectations and let staff know it’s okay to use it.
With all that said, technology can sometimes act as a buffer against real-life human contact – and a way for people to avoid awkward or uncomfortable conversations.
Encourage your employees to face communicating with you and their colleagues head-on, without hiding behind technology – harness it as a tool, not a hindrance.
When you communicate
To make sure your business runs as well as it can, near-constant communication about any and all things is necessary – but, it also helps to set a schedule. How regularly do you communicate in a formal setting with your team?
Creating a time for regular meetings or calls – weekly, monthly, quarterly – creates consistency in communication. If Employee A knows that their monthly meeting is coming up, they’ll have time to prepare and think about things to bring up which might not be discussed in the office usually.
Creating a regular communication schedule, to which your workforce will become accustomed, gives them opportunity to express themselves. This doesn’t have to be a ‘review’ or progress meeting necessarily; think of it more as a ‘catch up’ – open forum, whether one-on-one, with your team or across the whole company. This also provides time spent with the team to communicating as a collective – general goings on, successes within various teams and ways to collaborate or share information moving forwards. You’ll improve working relationships across the board, and the team will feel even more like one.
Ensuring that your staff feel able to approach you about most anything is key to reducing anxiety in the workplace – whilst I know that for many companies a hierarchy is important, so is a workforce who are engaged, motivated and happy to be there.
Having an open-door policy – I’m available for whatever you might need, whenever you might need it – helps promote healthy communication. With a real open-door policy in place, you as a manager are much more likely to know the ‘inside line’ on what’s happening within your business.
Does your workforce have a system in place to communicate things which you might not be privy to – one which doesn’t leave them at risk in any way?
Look, we don’t need to go into specifics – sometimes, there are circumstances happening or things going on which you aren’t involved in as the business leader, but it might be helpful to be aware of. You don’t necessarily see what the team sees or know what they know; just because things look peachy from the outside doesn’t mean it’s so.
Implementing an anonymous feedback system ensures your staff feel able to express themselves without fearing any comeuppance on saying aloud what others may be thinking. And no, it’s not just about being able to complain to upper management – it’s about sharing an idea, a question, an improvement which they think could be beneficial to the company as a whole.
And at the end of it all?
Listen to what your employees are telling you. Communicating regularly, openly and with honesty is useless if you’re not taking on board what’s being talked about!
Communication is a two-way street but facilitating it in a healthy way will help your team in so many ways – least of all when it’s ready to grow like ours currently.
How do you go about fostering a culture of open communication across your business?