Only 7% of U.S. employees confidently report that communication is accurate, timely, and open at their workplace, according to a recent Gallup study. Employers should take note, because the study also revealed that employees’ feelings about communication at work are directly linked to their engagement, performance, and their plans to stay at the company.
In order to improve communication at work, here are several key principles for managers to consider, whether remote or in the office:
Communicating expectations is most important.
Setting expectations might sound obvious, but only half of all employees report confidently knowing what is expected of them in their role. Clearly communicating expectations requires more than just assigning tasks to employees. In addition to articulating what needs to get done, managers should explain how those expectations align with both the company’s mission and the employee’s career goals.
Communicating expectations must not be confused with micromanaging. There is always more than one way to solve a problem, and employees should be encouraged to innovate and find creative solutions. Rather, what’s most important is that the desired outcome is understood and agreed upon by both manager and employee.
Communication should be scheduled to occur regularly.
Frequent conversations between managers and employees is the most effective way to communicate expectations. Both remote and in-person employees can benefit from a weekly check-in with their manager, a conversation that is always on the calendar and never left to chance. While it might be tempting to cancel a weekly meeting when things get busy, managers should strive for consistency in order to build a culture of trust and open communication.
Regular check-ins are mutually beneficial. These conversations give employees an opportunity to ask questions as they arise, making their workload feel more manageable and their goals more attainable. On the flip side, these meetings allow managers to become familiar with their employees personal and professional aspirations, enabling more meaningful conversations to naturally occur over time.
Communication should have substance.
Consistency is crucial, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to improving overall communication. The content of the conversations is equally as important. These conversations should address what the employee is doing well in addition to identifying opportunities for growth and improvement. Employees who regularly talk to their managers about their successes and career goals are 2.8 times more likely to stay engaged in their work.
Beyond improving employee engagement, having meaningful conversations also improves employee performance over time. Currently, only 26% of employees strongly agree that their manager’s feedback helps them succeed at work. But when employees regularly receive consistent, accurate, and timely feedback they are more likely to engage in open conversations with their managers. This creates a positive feedback loop where both employee and manager benefit and improve.