Improving The Communication System Of Your Small Business
Communication is one of the most critical aspects of virtually any type of business, regardless of whether that communication takes place internally or externally. A business communication system that works for your company can be difficult to perfect, but it is an absolute must.
It is also important to note that “communication” means more than just emails and phone calls. It also applies to how your employees and customers get information. Your communication system does not have to be some high-tech gadget, either. Sometimes the fundamentals of keeping an open line of communication can go a long way.
Use the following tips and information to create a business communication system that works for your company.
Create An Open-Door Culture
One of the best ways to encourage communication is to take steps to ensure that people feel like they can speak freely. Being receptive and willing to listen is important. If your employees do not feel like they are being heard, then they will be far less likely to speak up.
An open-door culture does not just spring up overnight, however. You may need to work at it. As a manager or owner, you can get the ball rolling by making small talk at downtimes and working to develop good relationships with your people.
You may want to incorporate other “perks” that encourage dialogue, such as:
- Team-building retreats or projects.
- Adding an office coffee machine or breakroom area.
- Bringing in treats or meals for a good week, month or quarter.
- Team or department meetings that encourage suggestions, interactive training, news, productivity tips and other relevant information.
It is also a good idea to be open about business issues as well. Having a dialogue that includes small talk is great, but employees will feel valued and trusted if they are involved in the inner workings of the business.
Develop A Central Repository For Need-To-Know Information
Your team has a slew of need-to-know information that they must have access to in order to do their job properly. Having all of this information in one place is not only efficient, but it also ensures that everyone is on the same page about vital company data.
These things might include:
- Best practices.
- Emergency contact information.
- Training materials.
- Supply or inventory information.
- Policies and procedures.
You may want to create both an electronic version of this information and a hard copy. While you may have given your staff this information in an employee handbook or something similar, it is still a good idea to have this data in a safe place at your business.
Workers may not always keep employee handbooks at work (or at all, in some cases).
Keep Everyone Up To Date
Your business moves quickly. New clients, new demands and new procedures can be challenging to convey to everyone on your team, especially if you are in different locations or working in separate departments. Nonetheless, making sure that everyone has the same up-to-date information is essential.
You may want to try having monthly meetings to ensure everyone has the same information. Newsletters can also be a handy way to get information out. Bulletin boards and interoffice memos work well for some companies too.
While you can certainly send around emails with every change, that can be time-consuming and cumbersome. Eventually, your team may gloss over these if they become too frequent as well.
Use Alternative Communication Channels
Email is easy, but it does not work for everyone. In-person meetings sometimes work best to convey information and encourage dialogue, but those can be time-consuming as well. Consider what works best for your unique team. Perhaps having a department-wide group chat is a good option.
Maybe virtual meeting spaces will work better for what you need to do.It might be a good idea to try a few methods and then ask your team what they prefer. Getting feedback about what works best not only improves your communication platform, but it also lets your employees know that you want and value their input – and you want to run your company in a way that helps them have a voice.
Create Guidelines For Communications
- Internal Communication System – One of the best ways that you can show others that communication and dialogue are a priority for you is to develop a system for it. For example, if you cannot allow your team to come in and ask you questions whenever they would like, create a policy that states that they can write down suggestions or problems and they will be discussed at a designated time. Alternatively, use your chat or video meeting space as the specified way that you will communicate about certain issues.
- External Communication System – You should also have a policy for external communication as well. Many companies have a software program that tracks customer information and includes a space for notes about phone calls, issues that have come up, status updates and next steps. You can use that type of system to not only communicate with customers more effectively but also interact with team members about the status of a customer without having to track down a particular person about an issue when it arises.
Whatever method you use, create a predetermined way to talk to your team and your customers. Simply having a communication system is so much better than not having one at all.
Consider Implementing A Project Management Tool
Depending on the type of business you have, it may make sense to use a project management tool to track progress on various issues, client files and more. These tools allow you to virtually and instantly determine the status of a project, and they often have a built-in communication system that makes conveying information on very specific issues much easier.
There are a wide variety of project management tools available, and you may need to do some research (and trial and error) to determine the type that works best for your team and the industry in which you operate.
Communication is the life-blood of virtually every business. If you cannot communicate effectively, you may end up struggling to thrive in the future. Create a communication system that works best for you to keep your company going strong for years to come.
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