Communication is one of the most complex concepts facing modern man. Within the workplace especially, office politics can be tough. We all want to have a stable, satisfying working life. When things flow smoothly at work, the rest of your life seems like a piece of cake. Conversely, when things are tough in the office, every small issue in your life can cause a big blowup.
Experts around the globe have developed advanced theories on how to communicate better in all areas of your life. Many seem complex and outdated. A 2010 case study shows in detail how destructive informal workplace relations can be. The study suggests that formalizing communication methods is the only way to increase productivity.
While this may have some truth in it, workplaces these days are often a hub of informal attitudes and processes. What this means is that we need to learn how to communicate effectively, while also staying relatable and grounded.
So how do we simplify our approach and create effective discourse around the subjects that matter? Ultimately it comes down to four simple tenets that everyone can follow:
- Trust - Trust can be boiled down into one basic action: listening. Listen to your employees, their needs, their struggles. Understand that implementing decisions has backlash and pay close attention to how that plays out. Make direct eye contact, encourage others to speak and be sympathetic. Allow staff to come to you with questions. All of these small actions create not just an effective manager, but a great leader. Communication needs to flow both ways and trust is an inherent principal of that.
- Courage – Don’t be afraid to talk about what employees want to hear. Many companies pander to staff, patently afraid that telling them bad news will stymie productivity. But this is untrue. Productivity is bolstered when employees feel like part of a team. So tell it like it is and get rewarded with solid performance.
- Discipline - Here’s where the formality comes into play. Create accountability amongst staff by setting a disciplined example. Set direction, communicate about new processes and track results. This kind of leadership stimulates employee motivation and creates enhanced engagement.
- Innovation – The workforce is changing and we must change with it. Coming up with new and interesting methods to streamline your company will benefit all. Improving processes has been repeatedly shown to increase productivity and contribute to workplace wellbeing. Communication becomes easier when things are flowing smoothly. Think of it as applied creativity.
A 2012 study shows that companies who communicate effectively had a 47% higher return to shareholders over a five-year period. This may be reason enough to implement the above strategies.
However there is an added bonus to upping your communication game.
Quality leadership is quite often reliant on conscious self-growth. Working to better your listening, your discipline, your courage and your creative mind will greatly enhance your ability to lead. It will also create space in your life for that elusive peace of mind in today’s fast-paced world.