Recent attendance at a Summer Human Resources Seminar recalled the importance of communication in every organization. This is something that all companies struggle with and it’s often the number one issue between employees and leaders. Particularly now with hybrid and remote workforces, that requires a more concerted effort around communication. Not just what is said, but how it is said and the tools that are used for communication. With each new technology tool, we obtain that allows for additional communication mediums, it seems that we fail to reign in how we will best use these tools to effectively communicate.
Communication isn’t just about getting information out, it’s about what specifically is said, how it is said, what tools are used to share the communication and even generational differences. Here is a snapshot of what stood out during the seminar that can be applied at any organization:
The Most Important Principles of Communication:
1) Be Honest
2) Be Accurate
3) Be Considerate
4) Be Concise
Communication Guidelines and what tool(s) to use:
Explanations = Email a. For communications that are longer and more involved, it’s best to utilize email and be clear in the writing of the email.
Quick Attention/Quick Answers/Quick Updates = Instant Messaging/Text Message a. For communication that is more of a quick update, one-off question or comment or something less involved, instant messaging (slack, teams, etc.) and/or text messaging is a good communication medium.
Why or What = Phone/Video Call a. When things need to be discussed and may not translate well through written communication, it’s always a good idea to pick up the phone. This allows for more dialogue and conversation to help explain the “why’s” or “what’s” related to a decision, or the information being communicated.
Preferred Methods of Communication based upon Generation:
Baby Boomers = Face to Face
Gen X & Millennials = Email
Gen Z = Instant messaging/Texting
It’s interesting to note that phone calls are not listed for any generation as the preferred form of communication, and it represented only 5% of the preferred communication method for all generations. Bad communication can end a lot of good things.
So, what happens if we do not communicate effectively? Not only are people left with limited information and are then forced to fill in the gaps themselves, but it also impacts employee engagement and morale and can lead to high rates of turnover. Specifically, as it relates to the different generations, when there is a lack of communication and/or ineffective communication in the workplace, we generally see Generation Z and Millennials become a flight risk, Baby Boomers will express their discontent and Generation X will typically withdraw.
To ensure your company communication aligns with the workforce:
Take time to create your company communication culture
Set clear expectations around communications, tools and how they are used
Share information intentionally
Empower employees to follow the communication standards
As a leader, manager, or small business owner, it’s your responsibility to set the tone of how communication is managed in the organization. It’s also your responsibility to be thoughtful and intentional about communication while understanding that different people respond to different forms of communication.