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Having an iron-fisted grip on the basics of managing a business doesn’t mean much if you fail to communicate crucial steps with your fellow workers. After all, a business is only as strong as its support network of employees and the basis of any solid support network is efficient communication.
It’s often not as simple as stating an idea until it reaches a point of semantic satiation, either; Knowing what boundaries to set and what avenues of communication are appropriate for different types of ideas can help more than any hours-long lecture.
Establish and understand workplace culture
First and foremost, understanding the culture of a specific business can go further in founding solid communication than you might think. Interacting with an existing group of individuals with their own in-house jargon, slang and level of comfort with one another requires a period of integration. Setting boundaries for a new group of hires can be even more difficult, yet just as vital.
Even apt social butterflies can benefit from staying on the fringes of a work group and studying their interactions before diving in. Take mental notes – how often does the group joke around? Are upper management figures keen on the same level of relaxed communication? Are meetings strictly formal, or is there room to socialise freely? Communicating in a manner a group is not used to can be a stumbling block that may even lead to mild social shunning until you get up to speed.
Use your tools efficiently
Whether you’re heading up a presentation for a department or working on newsletters to be sent to clients, using your available tools to their fullest potential separates run-of-the-mill low-effort communication from effective idea exchanges that open businesses up to proper growth. Even the simple hassle of dealing with outdated technology costs businesses big in employee satisfaction and time spent on task.
Even smaller facets of outdated technology can lessen what employees take away from in-house experiences. If you show up to a meeting with a presentation that has a PowerPoint background from the early 2000s and a flow of information that feels as if it was slapped together at the last minute, chances are you’re going to catch a room full of eye-rolls in response. Appearance matters on both a personal and a technological level.
Understand the difference between marketing and networking
On a very simple level, you’re not going to be communicating with your clients in exactly the same way as you do your coworkers. Marketing communication requires tailoring your message to meet the expectations of a client, but going for a wholly laid-back and casual approach doesn’t often pay off with clients as it does with office buddies.
While you should still aim to be transparent, straightforward and pleasant with clients, setting up expectations for client interactions can be just as beneficial as gauging how your coworkers interact. Adapt your strategy accordingly and don’t fall into a pattern of speaking with every client and coworker with the same tone, cadence and overall message.
Don’t let communication priorities slip
It is disturbingly easy to let the importance of open communication fall to the wayside. Yet it’s not always a matter of communicating constantly, but rather knowing what is work sharing and what can afford to be cut out of the public record.
If you find yourself over-sharing information with employees on a daily basis, the importance of those communications will almost certainly lose impact. Aspire to keep employees in the know but don’t be afraid to cut out a daily email if it amounts to little more than lip service.
Above all, keeping communication in mind at every stage of growth and development can make or break any workplace just as quickly as poor product turnout or underwhelming public relations. Set standards, know how to address your audiences and keep on top of growing technology trends or you might wind up with an empty inbox for all the wrong reasons.
Ryan Yarbrough is a small business consultant, speaker, and the manager at Davis Financial Services, a small business consulting firm.