Effective Workplace Communication

Eight practical, effective workplace communication tips that high-performance leaders use to bring out the best in their people.

All 4Bs of high-performance (Believing, Belonging, Behaving and Bottom-line) come into play when you are thinking about effective workplace communication.

How the 4Bs of high-performance impact on effective workplace communication

High-Performance Leaders understand that effective workplace communication

occurs when the following principles are integrated into their team.

1. The #1 influencer on effective workplace communication? Trust! (Believing)

The building and maintaining of trust is an on-going process in any organization. Unfortunately, it seems to be human nature that people recall the two times you mess up, and forget the 98 times you 'did right'!

People watch the choices and decisions made by their leaders, to gauge how trustworthy they are. So think through the long-term implications of any decision you make. Even if it seems like only a minor thing, (for example, slightly bending the truth in a meeting to save face).

When others feel that you aren't 100% honest, it could cause them to wonder, "If s/he isn't trustworthy in this small matter I wonder where s/he draws the line?" Now, they may not think that consciously but it will definitely be there subconsciously.

People Work Out Your Character

By the Small Choices, You Make

Your Character

2. People know their opinions and ideas are valued and make a difference  (Believing, Belonging)

One-way communication is a one-way street to disaster. It should be infrequent that you interact with people and not get their input and ideas. The adage 'two heads are better than one' has stood the test of time... for a reason.

When people can see that their opinions and ideas are valued, used, and make a difference they become inspired to contribute more than just their hands and their heads. You begin to tap into the magic... which is their hearts.

When people's hearts become engaged you get more discretionary effort. 

3. Effective workplace communication only happens when people feel free to express their opinions (Behaving)

Safety, or rather lack of, is one of the prime reasons that communication shuts down ... shuts down fast!

Safety doesn't necessarily mean physical, though it could. Generally, in the work context, safety means a threat to an individual's status, self-worth, career opportunities, employment. In other words they feel vulnerable in some way.

No matter whether you are speaking one-to-one with someone, or in a group situation, if people feel that their safety is at risk, they will either fight or flee.

Fleeing they clam up.

Fighting they go on the attack, by using sarcasm, aggression, etc. I have seen so many union negotiations go south, simply because both parties didn't establish a groundwork of safety. Discover more about creating safety in the Successful Feedback training. 

4. Ensure people receive information equally & openly (Behaving)

Free-sharing of information is one of the basic building blocks in any high-performance organization. People will make better and informed decisions when they have a full picture of the businesses needs.

Many organizations who are entrenched in the autocratic leadership model withhold information. Their fear is that people will ask for higher wages (if the news is good), or might leave the organization (if the news is bad).

My experience has been the direct opposite.

The more you share with people, the more they feel they are a vital link in the business, and its goals. However, this very much rests on the next point ...


5. People are highly trained in the requirements of the business, and able to interpret business information provided to them (Bottom-line)

It is a colossal mistake to share information with people, and not train them in how to interpret, and make use of, the information.

Most organizations are pretty darn good at teaching people the technical skills they need, to do their jobs.

Some organizations are reasonably good at teaching people the relationships skills they need in order to interact more effectively.

Few organizations do an excellent job of teaching people how to think like business partners. This is a real problem.

All team members need to understand the financial drivers

Into today's fast-paced business environment all team members (from the C-suite to front-line) need to understand the financial drivers. To have a competitive edge your people need to be business literate. They need to have financial literacy - the ability to interpret numbers on financial statements - with business literacy - recognizing how strategies and decisions impact these numbers. People need to understand how business works, why capital is important, to have a basic understanding of how the financials etc work.

Not sure that's true? In football the players need to know how the game is scored. To impact the score, they need to know how to play the game. In business, financial literacy is about understanding the score and business acumen is knowing how to impact it.

Communicating this sort of information to people throughout the organization, (because you would be surprised how many leaders don't fully understand the economics of business), is vital. Once people have the knowledge they need, they will make more profitable decisions for the organization. They will more readily influence top-line revenue generation and reduction of bottom-line costs. 

We use the Zodiak program to teach people how to think and act like business partners. Watch the video below and click here to find out more about Zodiak.

6. People believe there is positive intent behind actions taken and decisions made (Believing)

This slides right in with our first point ... trust. There is a saying, "We judge others by their actions and we judge ourselves by our intent". In other words, most people don't take the time to try to reason out why acting in a particular way. Furthermore, if your action hurts them, and their goals, then people will probably judge that your intent was not positive.

However, if you have taken the time to build trust and rapport the person is more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt. While they may not agree with and/or like your choice, they will be more inclined to think that you had a positive intent.

Make sure as you make decisions and take actions, that you let others know your intent. Don't assume they 'get' it. How often have you heard people say things like, 'Of course s/he knows I care for them', when in fact the other person doesn't have a clue.

7. People feel a responsibility to common goals (Believing, Behaving, Bottom-line)

Great leaders make sure that everyone in their team understands the goals of the team, and are on board with them. If someone isn't 'on the bus' with the goals, they help them find another bus to travel on!

Sometimes the wrong choice was made when a person comes into the organization. Their personal goals and the organizational goals aren't a close enough match. When that happens, work together to help them find something more closely aligned to their needs.

One of the best leaders I ever worked with, constantly reminded myself, and others, on the team just how important we were. Both as individuals, and collectively, to the success of the team and organizational goals. He communicated regularly, both at an individual and group level, to remind us that without our skills, talents, and energy the business just wouldn't be what it was. 

8. For effective workplace communication make use of multiple channels (Behaving)

Everyone learns in different ways. Some people like to read, some are visual, some auditory and some are more tactile. Make sure you use multiple methods to get your message across. Not only multiple methods, but multiple times too. It is crucial to effective workplace communication you use the 'multiple' principles.

I regularly remind my clients  ... especially when they are working through a performance issue with someone ... that you cannot expect to hold one conversation with a person and presume the problem to be fixed. Mostly, it just doesn't seem to work that way.

Be prepared to consistently, and regularly, communicate your message to others. Repetition is the mother of learning. Whether you're repeating the key messages about a change initiative, or the strategic direction of the business.


These eight tips should help you to think more widely about how to make sure you have effective workplace communication.

If you feel you could round out your knowledge in any of these areas, contact me about one-to-one coaching. Or, if your budget is limited join the Make A Dent Club and get your hands on the ebooks and resources that round out each of these points.

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