Liana Zavo is a publicist, PR media mogul, author, impact speaker and founder of ZavoMedia PR group, a global PR agency.
Since the pandemic has reshaped the business realm, leaders have recognized the importance of good communication in keeping the organization functional despite a crisis. While technology has made everything easily accessible, many managers remain challenged to overcome communication hurdles, with remote working being a prominent part of the equation.
Businesses know that effective communication can deliver powerful benefits, including reducing conflict and improving employee engagement. Still, I believe that only a few have really put the idea into practice and exploited the results. Considering the implications of health protocols that can affect attendance and face-to-face interactions, it has become difficult to master the art of communicating efficiently to minimize errors, especially for small businesses.
Fortunately, there are communication techniques that companies can use to solve current problems and dilemmas, as well as to stay relevant and adapt to change. After years of leading my public relations firm, I realized that good communication should be a strong backbone of any organization. It needs constant adjustments and improvements.
I’ve found that the following seven ways can help leaders maximize communication in their small business.
1. Create a safe and trusted environment.
Managers who create a communicative culture with transparency can influence employee efficiency and build trust. In my experience, team members are also more involved in performing their assigned tasks because they know they are valued and supported by their leaders.
To begin building this type of culture, consider implementing an open door policy and encouraging employees to voice their opinions about the company, work culture, and other aspects. Their insights and perspectives are valuable resources for managers to know which rules need to be adjusted to promote productivity and a better work environment. Managers can start by holding weekly one-on-one conversations with each member. However, be sure to designate a scheduled time for open door sessions as well so that everyone can still focus on their own work.
2. Take advantage of communication workshops to identify communication patterns.
People express themselves differently when faced with difficult situations and challenges. Knowing how others communicate reduces the chance of miscommunication. After attending communication workshops with my team, I discovered different preferences of employees in the field of communication. Asking new members about their communication options is one way to better understand them.
Consider holding a communication workshop yourself. And based on what you learn, make small adjustments as needed to get a message across that is easiest for your employees to understand. Small businesses should use communication programs, even if the business is still in its infancy. Problems are easier to solve when everyone knows how to communicate each other’s needs and resolve conflicts.
3. Create more opportunities by knowing the employee’s talents and skills.
Each of your team members may have undiscovered potential that could make them an important asset to the organization. Team building exercises are great activities that you can use to assess the abilities of each member. As the world adjusts to the new normal, virtual team building activities are great alternatives to keep everyone connected. For example, office trivia and remote quests are fun events that can promote camaraderie and communication between members.
In small businesses, the workforce is limited and the workforce is likely to juggle multiple roles. Knowing everyone’s strengths and weaknesses makes it easier for leaders to make decisions and solve problems that will improve productivity.
4. Strengthen ties by encouraging collaboration.
While everyone has a different role in the company, collaboration creates more opportunities for employees to communicate effectively with colleagues and business partners. Not everyone can talk to others naturally, but collaboration opportunities can help employees gain exposure and develop communication skills that will come in handy in the future.
5. Use a platform that keeps your team connected.
As remote working becomes more popular, the potential for miscommunication and mistakes between leaders and colleagues is growing. Small businesses are no exception. Setting up a centralized system in the early stages can help ensure smoother operations as the business begins to expand. A single platform that provides information and seamlessly conducts virtual meetings with business partners can help you save time, energy and money.
However, managers must first identify the company’s needs and pain points before choosing a platform. Conducting a survey can be an insightful data collection tool that can help leaders find a solution that works best for their business.
6. Encourage employees to share their ideas.
Provide instances where employees can share ideas and creative suggestions that can benefit the company. Ask questions and explore different angles to gather enough information. The more brains working on a project, the more options managers can have in developing a concrete plan focused on success.
7. Use surveys and social media to improve communication with customers.
Business communication does not stop within the four walls of the company; it also extends to consumers, who are likely to have a lot of feedback about your products and services. Brands can strengthen customer relationships through surveys and social media listening to track customer feedback and create social media campaigns. A popular example is the use of user-generated content with innovative and comedic responses. Not only is this cost-effective for small businesses, but it also creates engagement and encourages more customers to post more content, increasing brand reach and exposure.
As small businesses continue to thrive in a variety of industries, leaders must take the initiative to educate and mentor team members as they refine their communication skills. Good communication should be a foundation in any organization as it can lead everyone to a more engaged, productive and successful future.