This is part two of this article. If you missed part one, you can find it here. We are discussing the barriers to successful corporate communication in the modern workplace and how they can be overcome.
Failing to Keep Workflow Transparent
For any project to work everyone on the team needs to understand the way the work is supposed to flow throughout. After the initial design is complete is it up to Frank or Bob to make sure it gets to the next person in the approval chain? Who is that person? How long does the team have to get it to them?
If workflows are not clearly defined miscommunications, panic and even argument are likely to occur. Something as simple as an Excel sheet defining the process can keep everyone in the know and on track though.
Failure to Account for Communication Preferences
In an increasingly digital world there are dozens of ways that team members can stay in touch on a daily basis, but what method works for one person may not be the best thing for another. For example, there are those who think that Slack is the best thing sliced bread, but others are annoyed by it and its pings and nudges, find it too cumbersome and would much prefer to communicate via simple emails.
Taking note of these individual preferences, and trying, as far as possible, to accommodate them can make a huge difference in the quality of communications.
Failure to Talk Face to Face
WhatsApp, Slack, email, texting are all great, easy ways to communicate without disrupting everyone's day too much. There are times however, when a good old-fashioned sit down, face to face meeting is called for.
While minor decisions can be made electronically any big ones, the ones that likely involve everyone, should not be made via email back and forth, as there is just too much scope for misunderstanding.
Team meetings don't have to be formal affairs in the conference room either. Simply suggesting that everyone gather for coffee in an hour can be an easy, calm and less potentially confrontational way to get any issues that need to be dealt with settled to everyone's satisfaction.
Failing to Offer Criticism in the Right Way
No employee is perfect and sometimes criticisms do have to be made. In fact though, even using the word criticism is a little too negative if you want team communications and cooperation to thrive.
A better way of phrasing things would be constructive feedback. This means focusing on the issue with the work at hand. Far too often though such conversations are not positive. The boss is overworked, tired and frustrated. They shout and get aggressive, bringing up things from the past – or about an employee's character – that never should have been discussed.
The employee is then both defensive and disappointed; this is the person they are supposed to trust and learn from? Communication breaks down, everything has been blown out of proportion and it can be hard for either side to see how things can be resolved.
Rather than risk this plan out any conversations in which constructive feedback is called for, arrange a face to face with the employee involved and then make sure that constructive feedback is exactly what is offered, not accusations and nasty rebukes, and ensure the employee has her chance to tell her side of the story as well.
Failure to Show Appreciation the Right Way
Everyone wants to know that their hard work is appreciated. They don't – as a rule – expect to be given a medal for simply getting to the end of a project in one piece and with the goals set out accomplished. For the most part a simple acknowledgment of a job well done is more than enough.
There is, however, a right and wrong way to go about doing this. A 'let me CC everyone' congratulatory email is quite possibly going to be perceived as insincere and trite. Singling out certain individuals for public praise over others is divisive and simply asking for trouble (you can still do that, if someone has been a real star, but in private)
What will work best is gathering the team for a 'last meeting' to ensure that everyone feels appreciated and motivated to give their all to the next project, whatever that may be.