Tips to improve internal communication
- Dissect your company culture.
Is silence a cultural problem where employees feel their ideas and opinions are routinely ignored, or is it limited to a few employees? An employee might feel added performance anxiety if her spouse just lost his job, for example. Assessing your culture lets you gauge the scope of the problem and come up with a game plan.
- Recognise employees’ fears.
Employees’ worst nightmare is saying or doing something that makes the boss lose confidence in them. Let them know how important critical thought is to the company’s future, and that you welcome their contributions.
- Reward good input.
Celebrate contributions that lead to improvements, and make it fun. For example, you might buy a cheap, silly item from a second-hand store to use as a trophy that’s handed out to employees whose input solved a problem. When you make it more fun to offer critical input, employees will start to see it that way, too.
- Build a sense of community.
Employees want to know that everyone’s in it together. Let them know how the company is doing so they don’t fill in the blanks. The key is good communication. Employees who trust management are more likely to say what they think.
- Use size to your advantage.
There’s less top-down management in a small company, which allows for more closeness and creativity on the job. Regular one-on-one meetings are a simple way to keep up with individual employees and get them talking. Some employees might feel more comfortable sharing what they think in a one-on-one instead of a staff meeting, anyway.
Finally, don’t lose confidence in employees who seem to be holding back lately. They’re still very smart, talented employees – the economy just has them running scared. Let your team know that it’s okay to stop running, sit down and put their thoughts on the table. Your bottom line will thank you, and so will they.