Not all employees are good communicators. Whether it is their personality, their communication style, their delivery method or their overall understanding of the language, some employees will struggle to communicate with their peers, their managers and their corporate partners. Add in technology such as email, texting and social media, and a poor communicator can have a direct impact on your business. Here are some tips on how to develop an employee’s communication skills.
- have a conversation and prepare for it
- speak directly with the employee
- research and offer training programs
- show specific examples of the problem
- develop a plan for improvement
- handle remotely or via email
- forget to address non-verbal communications
- make the same mistakes
- reward poor communicators
- overlook the power of listening
Schedule time to meet with the employee and take the time to put together a thoughtful, positive conversation. It is important to connect with the employee and let them know that they are valued, contribute to the company, but need to improve their communication skills. Let them know how their communication is impacting relationships with other employees, managers and external partners.
Make sure that this conversation is done face-to-face in a neutral environment. Use a conference room or speak outside of the office. This will help the employee to understand that this is an important issue.
Look into any corporate programs offered through your training or human resource departments. If there aren’t any internal offerings available, seek external training providers. There are also communication coaches that offer one-on-one sessions to address an individual’s specific needs.
Provide specific examples of their poor communication. These can be emails, your direct interaction with the employee, or observed interactions. Discuss these examples with the employee. Have them explain what they were trying to communicate, as well as how that communication was received and interpreted. Work together to illustrate how the communication could have been handled differently for a more positive outcome.
Work with the employee to develop a plan for improvement. Depending on the issue, the solution could be an easy one. For example, if they are having an issue with their electronic communications, suggest that they use face-to-face communication or the telephone instead. This plan should be tailored to the individual and should include training, regular checkpoints and may include incentives for positive progress and repercussions if the issue continues with no improvement.
Conversations about poor communication will have a better outcome if conducted in person. While this may be difficult for global teams, an in person meeting ensures that the message is received and understood. The message can be misinterpreted if conducted over the phone, or via email.
Many communication problems have nothing to do with the words being said. Facial expressions and body language can have a big impact on what is said and how it is received by those listening. During this conversation, address any body language issues. If possible, video a conversation to show to the employee. Some employees are not even aware of these non-verbal cues.
Employees will often emulate what they see from their manager and other leaders in the workplace. Take a look at your own communication skills to see if they could be having an impact on employees.
Employees want to succeed and be rewarded for their efforts. They will emulate the behaviors of those that are receiving incentives, promotions and rewards. So make sure that management is rewarding the right type of behaviors.
Communicating is a two-way street. For an interaction to be successful, both parties need to communicate and listen to the messages being sent. Active listening can keep the communication moving forward on a positive note. If one party isn’t listening, communication can break down and the speaker(s) become frustrated.
Good communication is critical in creating a cohesive work environment. Not all employees are born communicators, but with the right guidance they can improve their communication skills and have a positive impact in the workplace.