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How do you communicate with your team?

April 28th, 2011 · 13 Comments · Agency life, Business owner/leader stuff, Employees

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…How’s your employee communication?

We’ve talked before about the importance of recognizing your employees as a very important audience for your business. You need them to all be pulling in the same direction. But like any audience — you have to decide what are your key messages to them — and how do you deliver them.  Over and over.  They’ll need some repetition so the key points can really sink in.

Employee communication is probably an area that every team leader or boss could improve.  (think I’m wrong — ask your team!) I’m curious — how do you communicate with your team (or how does your boss communicate with you?)

Have you tried any of these?

Ask Them

GOOD — Employee surveys: Don’t even bother asking their opinion, if you aren’t going to act on what you learn.  The good news about employee surveys is that the anonymity is likely to get you feedback that’s more candid.  And if you have a big crew, it’s probably the only way to get a fair representation.

BETTER — A scheduled chat: What, if instead of the formal survey, you carved out a set time every week and you, throughout the course of the year, met with everyone individually and picked their brain a little, while sharing your vision and thoughts?

Tell Them

GOOD — An all staff meeting: The plus of this is that everyone hears the same message and can ask questions, watch other’s reactions and participate as a group.  The down side of this is — someone always misses the meeting and if you have multiple locations across multiple time zones — tough to coordinate.

BETTER — Regular messages from leadership: Whether it’s an internal intranet/blog, a monthly video from the CEO, a weekly wrap up e-mail from the team leader — I think in this case, frequency wins.  If your team knows they’re going to hear from you on a regular basis, they’ll be more confident that they’re in the know.

Bonus points to you if you give them feedback avenues. Which is the perfect segue to…

Listen to Them

GOOD — The tried and true suggestion box: Whether you literally have suggestion boxes throughout the office or you use an electronic version, giving your employees a chance to speak up/out with ideas, questions, concerns etc. is a good start.  But some pumps need priming.

BETTER — Involve them: Are there some big financial goals you want to hit?  Put together a task force and ask them to help you create the plan.  Need ideas for holiday gifts for clients — pull together 3-4 people and give them the assignment.  Want to improve your recruiting efforts?  Why not put together a blend of young/old, new/seasoned employees and ask them why they took the job, what they love about the job and how you could improve the working conditions, etc.

Everyone works better and harder when they believe they are contributing.  So the best way to listen is to ask…and then implement!

This is one of my personal goals — to get better and better at being plugged into what my employees are thinking, doing, wondering about and tapping their insights to make MMG an even better place to work and do business with.

How about you?  Do you do any of the above?  Have any other suggestions to share?

 

 

 

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • chris brown

    Drew:
    I think we’re good, but striving to become better. Great post for me right now as I’m trying to improve communication and employee interaction to keep it fun as the company grows!
    Thanks for another great post,
    Chris
    chris brown recently posted..What are the Best Brands in the WorldMy Profile

  • EO Alchemy

    Keeping your employees engaged is a great way to maintain a healthy working environment. Great post!

  • Jocelyn Wallace

    Drew, great post and a topic I’m passionate about! Having done some time as an HR pro in my previous career, I’ve seen your list of suggestions work well. I especially love the “good” and “better” segmentation!

    As I was thinking about your probe for more ideas, I have to say that leadership was the lever for all other aspects of employee satisfaction and engagement for me. Out of around 15 leaders in a 13 year period, I can only think of three who were awesome. Here’s why: 1) when I experienced personal hardship outside of work, that leader became a human being and a friend; 2) the leader could see potential in me, beyond what I could see, and helped me grow & get opportunities even if it meant I would leave his/her team ; 3) the leader supported a culture of making it safe to fail, which cultivated creative thinking and sharing.

    So I’m wondering… Without great leadership, do
    any of the other tips matter? Can you be an effective communicator to your team if you don’t get this one right?
    Jocelyn Wallace recently posted..Be a Visual Tweeter at the 140 Character Conference!My Profile

    • Drew McLellan

      Jocelyn,

      I’m not sure much of anything can really be accomplished if a company does not possess some powerful leadership. But…I don’t think that always comes from the top. Anyone in the organization can step up and lead — and in the great companies — it’s a 360 degree happening. But, overall I agree with you — if the company’s leadership does not possess some basic skills/traits (humility, compassion, passion, vision, willingness to be vulnerable etc) then more communication won’t help much.

      Drew

  • Thatcher Williams

    Wonderful topic – hits about all I have considered when I’ve been in management.

    Involving them in the process, not just getting feedback – but implementing good suggested changes, and by interaction with them which helps them understand that you value their worth – these are a few hallmarks of a successful operation and leadership.

    It’s about employees having a sense of ownership in the organization and not owned by it.

    • Drew McLellan

      Thatcher –

      That, I believe, is actually the secret to success. When the employees care about the business, each other and the customers like they owned the joint — you’ve got something very rare and special on your hands!

      Drew

  • Eric Johnson

    Drew, came across your interesting post as I was looking at team-oriented topics subsequent to writing my own piece about it. (Afraid mine’s coming from a more subversive direction.)

    I have led teams in the past. Two ideas I’d recommend… First, include short-term goals on a regular basis that a team can accomplish, say, within at most a day. If you can get a team to accomplish a goal in 2-5 hours, the feeling of reward is greater and, I believe, takes advantage of built-in evolutionary psychological reward mechanisms. The team will feel quite positive about reaching the goal (if they reach it, that is — don’t make it a “gimmee”) and such goals every so often reinforce team morale. Second, don’t bs people by calling them a “team” if you (and they) suspect that it’s just HR-type rhetoric. A team must have the feeling that they NEED to pull together to accomplish a task/project and everyone must share equally in the responsibility and the rewards. If you can get them to feel like they are “in the trenches” together, so much the better. Triggering elements of the hunter instinct will enhance a team’s motivation and cooperation. (Team sports manage to accomplish this quite easily, even though the outcome of a game is not important in the “real” world. Figure out how to tap into that and you’ve got yourself a true team.)
    Eric Johnson recently posted..Mother’s Day Gift Ideas- Turquoise Jewelry and More from the National Geographic StoreMy Profile

    • Drew McLellan

      Eric,

      Love the short term goal suggestion! I might drag it out a little longer than 2 hours but even if it’s within a day or week — that would be awesome. And you’re right about the team thing. In fact, many companies pit members of the team against each other so that when one is successful, the other must fail. Hardly a “let’s do it together” team building activity!

      Drew

  • Ruhi Desai

    Hi,
    Quite an interesting content, better communication with the employee team is very essential always. Any way without establishing effective communication with the employees it is very difficult to attain overall success for the organization.
    Please follow our blogs on similar topics to share our views.
    link to goo.gl
    Thanks
    Ruhi Desai
    Senior Business Development Manager @ Sapience Analytics Pvt Lmtd

  • martins

    Before anyone can effectively communicate at whatever level of business they need to learn how to communicate on a personal basis. Unfortunately we communicate with more than our speech and we cant fake those signs… I read a very heplful but compact book by marshall… THE TWINS OF SUCCESS… link to payhip.com …… Talks about networking as well, hope you find what your looking for

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