Whether teams are working on-site, remote or in a hybrid model, improving communication has a tangible impact on how employees accomplish tasks, organize their schedules and work to achieve goals.
The best way to achieve efficient communication is by providing teams with high-quality resources, clear roles and goals, friendly performance reviews and a feedback policy.
Read on to get insights and tips on how to boost productivity, employee satisfaction and mutual understanding by improving communication.
1. Two-way communication
To achieve motivated, strong decision-making teams and smooth workflow, companies need a communication strategy beyond ensuring leaders inform tasks and deadlines to their teams.
A good strategy should embrace open communication, in which everyone can express ideas and feelings, so employee satisfaction and confidence are boosted.
Moving away from top-down communication boosts employees' self-esteem, and managers become aware of their teams' needs, expectations and concerns.
2. Two-way feedback
Promoting a culture of feedback is a powerful way to encourage your teams and colleagues to share their impressions and experiences. When managers make it clear they value feedback and provide employees with the proper tools, people will likely feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, so managers won't have to ask for feedback every time they need it.
Self-assessments are an encouraging opportunity for employees to share their thoughts about tasks that they may be struggling with. Eventually, you might find out some of your staff are overwhelmed, while others feel like they could take on more responsibility.
The first step to encourage feedback should be providing your staff with solution-focused, constructive feedback. Take as an example this performance review template below, which praises employee's efforts, focusing on achievements and strengths, and points out areas of improvement. This is a great starting point for frank and positive two-way communication:
Besides relying on visuals to create your performance reviews, it’s a good idea to provide employees with performance review templates, as visuals are highly engaging.
Information provided in the self-assessment serves as a good subject for the next virtual meeting you have with your employee or even with a full team, so you can address both individual and collective concerns.
3. Keep in touch throughout the day
Email, virtual meetings, Slack, webinars, hosting virtual events — we’re lucky to have so many options to communicate without being physically close nowadays. So why not use the available tools at their most?
For example, let's take email, which is no longer the most-used communication channel but is still useful in a variety of situations. Though many think it can be difficult to explain certain things over email, visuals make email communication more straightforward and efficient.
The adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" is present in many languages. Research from the Visual Teaching Alliance has discovered that the human brain can process images up to 60,000 times faster than words. Using visuals to explain processes, data, and complex concepts and ideas can be helpful and time-saving.
As sharing raw data isn't always the best approach, you can rely on data visualization. It may sound complicated, but it’s simple when using templates to combine charts and diagrams, such as pie charts, to tell a story in a data infographic.
See an example below:
This infographic shows you how well-designed visuals are eye-catching and make us want to understand all the information because it contains relevant data and tells a story. This infographic would be perfect for nonprofits to customize and share with their staff through email to provide an impactful overview of the problem they are working to assuage.
You can also use visuals to share insights, tips or how-tos to support your teams and be constantly in touch by creating a weekly newsletter. See, for example, this one below on employee mental health:
4. One-on-one meetings
One-on-one meetings are great to address any matter. They’re less formal than written communication and encourage people to bring up things they usually wouldn't share by email or message. But meetings sometimes seem like a waste of time when we don't have an agenda, so check below an infographic with embracing tips for planning one-on-one meetings.
Having visuals like this is also great to standardize communication and help managers and employees be prepared prior and get the most of their time together. And it also can be customized for any meeting agenda, as colors, shapes, letterhead and texts can be edited.
5. Provide support
Standardizing processes is also a great way to improve remote work communication and make employees more confident. Sometimes the best way to do that is by providing support materials they can quickly check, so they don’t feel alone when needing help.
This is the concept behind job aids. They provide instructions on how to accomplish a task and help employees avoid mistakes in the workplace. Because of how effective job aids are at sharing information, they can also be used as a tool for employee communication by making it unnecessary for employees to ask colleagues or managers how to do work-related tasks.
You can create a job aid to share post-training information or as needs arise, and use your newsletters to make sure everyone receives it.
Flow chart job aids, for example, are great to help employees make decisions and finish tasks that require several yes or no decisions made in sequence, like this one below, from a fictional company’s customer support team:
To create an engaging, helpful flowchart job aid, start by sketching out the number of steps and how complex is the task you’re dealing with. You can start from scratch or choose a free flow chart template that mirrors the workflow you want to represent. Then start creating the flow in the upper left-hand corner because that’s how people read, and follow these design tips:
- Use different shapes and colors for different options.
- Highlight “Start here” with a different shape, so readers know where to begin the flow.
- In the example above, options are black circles, but you can use colors to contrast “yes/no.”
- Use colors to highlight information: adding a single color to a black and white flow chart makes the main information stand out.
- Include only essential points, as it is supposed to be a quick, easy-to-check visual.
- Use a short introduction to provide guidelines.
There are many types of job aids, such as step by step, checklists, worksheets and more. The right one for you depends only on the task you want to represent. If you are going to get started in creating job aids, check these final tips below: