Achieving peak performance depends upon your organization satisfying the three key communication needs of your employees.
Key Employee Communication Needs
Many organizations are still struggling with their employee communication practices. Is your organization one that could more effectively communicate with its workforce? What messages should you communicate and how should you go about communicating them to your workers?
What we have found is that workplace communications must satisfy three key employee needs before your workers can be fully engaged and highly productive. What are those three critical needs? Here they are in a nutshell.
Each and every employee needs to:
- Know that …
Included here are facts about your organization and the employee’s specific job —what business you are in, who your customers are, specific details about your product or service, where forms are located, who to see when there is a problem …
- Master that …
Included here are the practical skills required to do their job well —repairing a machine, filling out an invoice, designing a building, writing a software program …
- Feel that …
Included here are the interactions that give them a sense of belonging and self-worth —being listened to, respected, trusted, valued …
Managers predominantly concentrate on the first communication need – know that – and pay less attention to the second need to master skills. The third need – feel that – is what makes employees distinctly human and what drives them to outstanding achievement in work and outside of work. And yet it is in this dimension that employee communications are often most lacking.
Look closely at the employee communication practices happening in your business. Is it satisfying what employees need to be fully engaged and working productively? Use the communication tools in Leslie Allan’s change management guide for practical strategies focused on developing a constructive communication culture in your workplace.
Communicating Between Organizational Units
Consider also the scope of communications in your business. Are your executives and managers communicating effectively at all four levels in your organization:
Organization wide communication —involving all employees
Departmental communication —specific to one department or unit
Team communication —within one cohesive team or group
Individual communication —specific to one employee at any one time
Communications may be working effectively at higher levels, but fail dismally at the more local level. The interpersonal skills of supervisors, team leaders and local managers are especially critical at levels 3 and 4. It is at these levels that people develop the most personal working relationships with their direct supervisors.
Just as important is the communication between and within levels. Gone are the days when departments could stand as silos, isolated from the rest of the organization by impenetrable barriers. Intra-national and international competition is now so fierce that everyone in the organization needs to collaborate closely on solving organizational challenges and on achieving agreed strategic objectives. What are the communication barriers in your organization?
Where is your organization in its maturity life-cycle? Is it large or growing rapidly? As more people are added to an organization, employee communication needs and stresses increase exponentially. Joe, who used to do purchasing, inspection and warehousing on his own now needs to talk to three other departments as well as the people in his own expanding team. What structures, systems and processes has your organization put in place to encourage and facilitate effective workplace communication flow?
Well-designed employee communication surveys can determine how well your communication systems and practices are contributing to your organization’s performance —or how much they are hindering reaching success. This information will then help you in devising an effective workplace communication strategy. Whatever else you do, your workplace communication practices impact every facet of your business. Looking closely at employee communication in your organization is well worth your while, because even if you do not, your employees are.