Improving communications in the office - Business Works
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Improving communications in the office

by Ciara McGrath, Head of HR and Talent, Instant Offices One of the most vital aspects of working in business is communication. This ensures that issues are solved effectively and that all projects can run efficiently. Ciara McGrath, Head of HR and Talent at Instant Offices puts forward 12 tips to improve your communication skills in business and to help you towards a happy office.

  1. Handle conflicts head-on
    Avoid small conflicts from blowing up into major problems by tackling them head-on. Let employees know that you have an open door policy and that they can come to you with any issues and at any time too. Sometimes employees wait until a review / appraisal and by that time the issue is worse so you need to nip it in the bud. When you respond to these issues, be sure to do so with a non-judgmental approach. Ask questions and listen intently so that you fully understand how each person feels and can help to find a resolution.

  2. Speak directly
    Even though technology has made us more efficient, we have become completely dependent on our e-mails and smart phones - often to the point that we would rather send an e-mail to someone in the same office, rather than just talking to them in person. The downside of this is that emails can often be misconstrued. Take back valuable working relationships by speaking face-to-face with people whenever you can. You can't judge tone through writing and sometimes direct contact is best.

  3. Respect differences
    Some companies operate worldwide and with the ease of immigration many businesses now also hire skilled foreign employees in their local offices. Ensure that your office is culturally sensitive to all of your employees. This means being conscious of the way different nationalities interpret words and gestures as well as providing kosher or vegetarian options and letting employees time off for religious holidays.

  4. Give helpful feedback
    Your employees need to know that you recognise them. Whether you have to give constructive criticism or praise it's important that all employees know how they are working. Do this by holding regular feedback meetings, or if you want to save time, rather send an e-mail, call or give a brief status update every few days. When you give feedback, make sure that it is detailed. One word feedback isn't helpful and can leave your employee feeling like you don't care. If there is a problem, try offer solutions. Remember to give positive feedback too. Praise and recognition make employees feel important, which motivates them work harder, which benefits the company of course!

  5. Don't micromanage
    When you hired your staff, presumably you hired them because you felt they were skilled enough to complete their duties, meaning there is no need to micro-manage. Micro-managing staff and hanging around their desks to check they are doing their work the way you want leaves them feeling incompetent, insecure and unmotivated. Hold weekly run-down sessions so you are still aware of what is going on. Just don't hover.

  6. Remove your emotions from equation
    It is often difficult to be professional at the office when there are so many different personalities in one space. When an employee is doing something that upsets you, try not to get emotional. Rather take a deep breath and try to respond calmly. Be sure not to make your response personal. Instead of saying 'you did a horrible job!', rather say 'here are some pointers on the things I need you to add to your work'. You're on the same team at the end of the day.

  7. Actually listen
    Hearing your employees out is the first step to communicating effectively. When you're talking about a project or issue with one of your workers, keep a mental checklist of the points or ideas they are making, or if you're prone to forgetting, rather write them down to address later. If a worker sees that you are paying attention, they are much more likely to listen attentively to you as well. Hold off responding until they are done and don't interrupt. When they are done speaking, paraphrase what they have said and ask them to clarify anything you missed. This ensures you're both on the same page.

  8. Be consistent and clear One of the most important communication tools is consistency. Be clear and purposeful when you speak and make sure that your words and actions are consistent. Saying one thing and doing another only sends mixed signals to your employees.

  9. Ask questions
    Asking questions opens up dialog in the office. Be sure to use the right type of questions for the right situations to get out of them what you need. Use open-ended questions to expand the scope of discussion and set expectations for a meeting and use close-ended questions for get hold of specific information and regain control of a conversation if a worker is going off on a tangent.

  10. Always stay positive
    No matter what the conversation is about, try to keep it positive. If you have to give negative feedback, do it in constructive way. Try to focus on behavior and performance rather than the employee or their character.

  11. Write it down
    It is nearly impossible to remember a verbal order nowadays as we have so much on our plates. If you have a project that needs to be done, be sure to let your staff know with a written brief. Make sure that anything important is written down so that anyone can refer back to it when they need it and you can communicate the task properly.

  12. Do team building
    Team building isn't just one of those buzz words that people use to waste company money. Effective team building activities can not only increase overall happiness in the workplace, but also improves employee engagement and their methods of communicating with one another. This again will help workers feel open to talking and will help with performance overall

For more information, please visit the: Instant Offices web site

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