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Effective workplace communication more a necessity

Written by Jean Phelps. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on January 11, 2012 with No Comments

Stop for a second and think about the different ways you communicate every day at work. Cell-phone calls, personal emails, work emails, text messages, work-phone calls, meetings and more.  With all these different forms of contacting each other, it seems like communication in the workplace wouldn’t be a problem.

But according to a recent Hiring Trends survey conducted by one of the nation’s largest privately held staffing companies Express Employment Professionals, leaders and employees agree: effective communication is an issue in today’s workplace. The survey showed that both leaders and employees believe effective communication is the most lacked trait among their leadership team. The survey also revealed that effective communication was the most important quality a good leader can possess. It’s important to start 2012 off the right way to help grow your business, and one of the best approaches to that is by becoming a better communicator.

Meetings seem to be the most common form of communication in the office, and while there is such a thing as an efficient meeting, they are rare. A Microsoft survey showed that employees spend more than five hours a week in meetings, and 71 percent of them thought the meetings were un-productive.  In a previous Express Hiring Trends survey, 51 percent of leaders said meetings are the biggest drain on their time. Despite this information, an abundance of meetings continue to persist, often being seen as an unnecessary evil part of the job in which most employees are disengaged.

 To help combat some of these challenges, consider implementing a “No Meeting Day” once a week in the office to make sure your employees’ time isn’t taken away by yet another meeting. Proper meeting etiquette will also help to keep the meeting worthwhile for those in attendance. Don’t allow meetings to start late, make sure there is always an agenda, and don’t allow cell-phone use during the meeting. These simple yet effective solutions will lead to a more productive atmosphere in the office without sacrificing time that could be used for other critical tasks.

And if meetings are seen as one of the most time-consuming aspects of communication, the barrage of emails workers receive is the second most frustrating. According to a study by market research firm Radicati Group, Inc., a business person received on average 75 emails per day and sent 37 per day in 2011, with those numbers expected to increase to 80 and 39 per day in 2012, respectively. There is no doubt that emails are one of the most effective ways of communicating with fellow employees, but it can also be one of the worst ways to make sure your message is clearly communicated. If your message is five sentences or less, an email is probably the best way to convey the message. If not, maybe a face-to-face meeting would be a more effective way to communicate what you need to say. If you’re the leader of a team of employees, it’s important to understand how much time your emails add to your employee’s workday. When you do send out emails, make sure the information is clearly stated, valuable to the recipients, and concise. Effectively communicating through email is possible but it takes work and will most likely change the normal routine at your business.

Meetings and emails are the two most used forms of workplace communication, but we also spend a lot of time communicating with non-verbal signals. Non-verbal signals are usually misunderstood and often lead to tension in the office, so it’s important to be aware of common nonverbal mistakes and how to avoid them. When you’re speaking with co-workers and team members, be aware of your arm positioning, avoiding crossed arms as it sends a defensive message. A simple smile can also go a long way in starting the day off right, so remember that the next time you come into the office with your mind already racing through the day’s to-do list. Eye contact is another easy-to-fix form of nonverbal communication that leaders often overlook. Keep eye contact during conversations. This will show interest and genuine attentiveness to the speaker, and while speaking, allow your focus to shift occasionally from person to person so the whole team feels included in the discussion.

Effective communication affects every aspect of the workplace, both positively and negatively, so making it a priority in 2012 should be one of your first steps to a great new year at work. Being a better communicator will show its impact in productivity and in office morale. In an Express Hiring Trends Survey from 2011, company leaders noticed a 42 percent drop in morale. Better run meetings, fewer and more concise emails, and a feeling of reassurance from their leader will assuredly help employees’ morale, and happier employees will lead to more growth and success in 2012.

For more information call Jean Phelps at 219-465-1868 or email, Jean.phelps@expresspros.com.

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About Jean Phelps

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Jean Phelps is a franchise owner of Express Employment Professionals, which is located in Valparaiso and serves Northwest Indiana. If you are seeking employment or are a business seeking that right person for the job, call Express for your human resource solutions at 219-465-1868, or visit www.expresspros.com and click on the Valparaiso office.

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