Dear A Advisor,
I’m an HR manager and I’ve recently noticed a breakdown in communication in my company. It’s affecting productivity between and within teams and making it more difficult for employees to truly engage with their work. In fact, the numbers on our engagement surveys are falling and people seem much less happy. I’d like to keep my teams positive and productive, without the strain of poor communication.
Do you have any tips for improving lines of communication between and amongst teams in my company?
Let’s Start Talking
Hey there, LST,
Clear communications and a positive atmosphere in a workplace are closely linked. When employees do not have a clear conception of the goings-on in an organization, work can fall through the cracks, managers’ expectations may seem unreasonable, work may be duplicated and employees may feel as though their work is undervalued simply because their efforts haven’t been appropriately recognized. These confusions can build resentment that undercuts employee engagement.
You can take concrete steps to improve communications among your teams and across departments, thereby building a positive environment and fostering healthy employee engagement:
- Define responsibilities.
Within teams: A major source of tension in many work places is a perception that some team mmbers may shirk responsibilities. Clearly defining which team members takes ownership of which tasks creates a culture of transparency where imbalances of workload are easily addressed and do not breed resentment.
Across departments: When responsibilities are unclear between departments, tasks can often be bounced back and forth until they are a much larger problem than they should be. Avoid this problem by defining workflows for problems that require departmental cooperation. Open up communication and collaboration across the organization to facilitate interdepartmental engagement.
- Encourage positive employee recognition.
Within teams: In many ways, recognition itself is a communication tool: it indicates that an individual has displayed positive behavior and that it was noticed and appreciated. Most importantly, it communicates an example of positive professional behaviors to an entire organization, establishing a work ethic based on real examples.
Across departments: Recognition across departments can offer insight into the hard work done by individual teams. Recognizing the positive work of colleagues in other departments opens up lines of communication across the organization by fostering a deeper understanding of the roles of each team, and allows teams to have confidence that they can collaborate effectively.
These approaches tackle the intertwined issues of effective communication and a positive professional environment. Improved communications and a culture of recognition proactively prevent the resentment that can fester within teams or across an organization—you can develop a happy, productive company environment with improved communications.
The A Advisor
How do you keep your teams productive and positive? What are some of your company’s internal communication strategies?