Workplace Communication: Ideas To Improve Communication At Work #SHRM19


According to Myers-Briggs, more than 88 percent of Fortune 500 companies use assessment tools for people development globally. Why is workplace communication important? Because it enables people to be productive and efficient. 

We all know what happens when there is a communication mixup. Mostly, the word “loss” comes up. Lost time. Lost productivity. Lost revenue. Lost clients. Lost opportunity. 

You don’t want your company to be in that boat. So, how do organizations improve communication at work? Fortunately, there’s several workplace communication companies with lots of ideas to share on this topic. Here’s what they had to say on improving workplace communication. 

Intention Based Communication 

There are three steps within a communication training. 

First, analyze your audience. Who are you speaking with? Is it a new employee you’re onboarding? Are you communicating up the chain to executive management? Every audience is different and has their challenges. Being cognizant of those different audiences before engaging is the first step. 

The next step is to understand the objective of your message. Everyone has a purpose or point. ‘I want to engage these new hires. I want to ensure management we’re making the right decisions.’ It’s all about the key takeaway that you need your audience to get from your messaging or presentation. 

The third step is to modify your delivery knowing that you need to achieve that objective. That’s critical to effective communication. You modify your delivery with the intention of your message. What’s the one word verb for the call to action? ‘I want to challenge them. Inspire them.’ Communicate that message through your body language, the content, and your intention queues. 

When these three steps align with your message, audiences will understand what’s in it for them. 

Digital Literacy

The workplace needs to be inclusive and productive, supporting employees with ‘hidden’ disabilities like dyslexia or those with English as a second language to meet their full potential.

Employers are beginning to learn that they need the benefits that diversity can bring. For example, individuals with a hidden disability may not flourish in a traditional interview format, but they still have lots to bring to the table, including the ability to approach problems from a different angle and consider innovative solutions to business challenges.

Support needs to be effective right from the hiring process through to helping an employee to work in a way that suits them best, and then with further help day-to-day - whether that’s technological, practical, or otherwise. In doing so, organizations not only create a more diverse, talented, and capable staff base, but also comply with legal obligations and become a more attractive place of business to prospective customers, clients, and employees.

  • Aaron Lopez, Director of Workplace Solutions, Texthelp

Survey Systems 

Open communication inspires all of us to do our best. That’s why leveraging surveys to collect feedback across all touchpoints helps identify and correct any issues early to maximize their success. 

With that said, there are a couple of challenges to overcome with survey systems. 

The first challenge is governance and standards; if everyone throughout the organization is collecting different data, it’s impossible for a CLO or CHRO to get a comprehensive view of what’s working and what’s not.  So the first step is establishing a sound data collection framework and approach, which requires technology to minimize administration. The next challenge is in translating data into action. Data literacy is a hot topic in every functional area, and the HR/L&D space is no exception.  People need to know how to interpret the data and recognize when additional analysis is needed, then take action to correct areas of low performance.

  • Cristina Hall, Vice President of Enterprise Strategy, Explorance

Video Interviewing

I wish that more HR professionals and recruiters knew about one-way video interviews. Many folks still believe that video interviewing platforms are the same as video chat/video conference solutions (e.g. Skype, Facetime, Zoom, etc.) As a result, most people think that video interviews are only used when you have non-local candidates.

However, most organizations using video interviews are leveraging one-way video interviews which allow candidates to do the interview on their own time. This solution should be used no matter where your candidate is located. Just because a candidate lives 5 minutes down the road doesn’t mean you should do a 1-2 hour in-person interview with them. A one-way video interview empowers your team to learn more about your candidates in less time so you can ensure you’re only doing final, in-person interviews with the best people.

Language Localization

It is important to realize that while English is the lingua franca of the US, global employees who may be US-based or overseas, may not understand English as well as they say. If you are administering corporate training, sending communications, or managing employee relations in general, the information is much better absorbed and understood when delivered in the native language of the employee. The goal is to ensure that all employees share the same opportunity for understanding the message rather than being tested on their ability to understand English.

  •  Judith Soloduk, Senior Marketing Associate, Morningside Translations

Tailored Assessments 

Organizations need a dialogue tool. For example, look at new hires in onboarding. How often do you have the opportunity to confirm a preferred communication style? A dialogue tool deployed in orientation gives people the opportunity to say, ‘here’s how I like to do things.’ 

Use a dialogue tool in onboarding to prevent future miscommunications, learn how people are naturally hardwired, and what their predicted behaviors will be. 

  • Christina Bowser, Senior Facilitator and Project Manager, Extended DISC

Applying Communications Training

Understand who you are communicating with. The biggest underlier in miscommunication is not knowing how to communicate with people who have different styles. Once you discover how to best communicate with your coworkers, you can work together towards a common goal. 

Leadership buy in and getting everyone on the same page and invested in the strategy is critical. Getting to the point of applying the communications training is incredibly important. When it’s a part of your culture, you see the long-term benefits of a communications initiative. If what you do doesn’t have ramifications on the day-to-day, you’re not maximizing your communication training. 

  • Allison Hetzel, Strategic Account Manager, Real Colors

Video Communication

Companies face several challenges when trying to communicate.

They tend to overdo it, packing in too much information. They don’t build their idea around a central visual or metaphor that helps their audience see the idea in terms familiar to them. And, organizations tend to talk only about themselves and their ideas.

Communication should always be about the person on the other end. It’s their discovery of these ideas and how they relate to them that matters,

With that said, video is fantastic for framing things and getting across the big picture. They’re not a great vehicle for details, and diving into the weeds. But video can engage, and help people retain information with the right accompanying materials.

Interested in learning more about workplace communication? Review SHRM’s vendor directory of organizational and employee development companies, or jump in the conversation on social media by following SHRM.


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