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3 employee communications mistakes you must avoid

4-minute read

Communicating with your people is one of your most important jobs as a leader. Whether it’s describing your vision for the company’s future, outlining sales targets or announcing a team party—you’re constantly communicating with your employees.

Clear, meaningful communications motivate your people to give their best in achieving your company’s goals.

Many entrepreneurs struggle to communicate effectively with their teams. Organizational problems and low engagement levels are often the result.

Here are three common mistakes entrepreneurs make when communicating with their employees followed by three simple strategies you can use to improve the job you’re doing.

Mistake No. 1—You don’t do it regularly enough

As a business owner, you need to keep a lot of balls in the air, so part of the problem is a lack of time. It’s also psychological. You’re usually in the middle of things, so you tend to think everybody else in the company is aware of what’s going on, too. That’s often wrong.

The more information your employees have, the more involved they’ll feel, and the more they’ll want to contribute to making your business a success.

But as your business becomes more complex and you start adding people—sometimes in different locations—regular communication can often be the first casualty.

As your company grows, make sure you adapt your communication style. What worked when you had two employees won’t work when you have twenty. It’s important to get into the habit of communicating in a structured and consistent way.

Mistake No. 2—You’re not clear

It’s not always easy to discuss complex or difficult topics in a simple, logical and clear way. The result is conflicting, inconsistent messages that create confusion, misunderstandings and anxiety. That can take a huge toll on employee engagement and productivity.

Be concise and take into account your audience, including linguistic and cultural differences.

Mistake No. 3—You don’t ask enough questions

Communication is a two‑way street. By nature, entrepreneurs are used to being listened to. But your employees are your most valuable source of ideas for solving problems and improving your business. Ask for their opinions and take them seriously.

Three simple communications strategies

Use these simple strategies to improve communication in your company.

1. Define a clear vision for your business

Prepare a strategic plan for where you want to take your company in the next two to five years and how you intend to get it there. Make sure you communicate the plan clearly so that all your employees understand it and focus on the same goals.

For your people, this strategic plan will provide answers to questions such as: Why are we here? What is our role in the organization? Why is this important? Where are we headed? The answers will empower and rally your people towards common goals.

2. Be disciplined in communicating

Depending on the complexity and size of your business, decide how often you should communicate to keep your employees abreast of developments. Some companies do it weekly, others do it monthly. Find out what works best for your organization and stick to it.

As your business grows, make a communications plan, build a process around it and put someone in charge of employee communications.

Besides updates on financial results and other regular items, make sure you communicate major changes in your business, such as launching a new product, acquiring a key client or hiring a new member of the staff. As a rule, you should strive to be as transparent as you can be about what’s going on in the business.

Don’t sweep bad news under the carpet.

3. Use the right channels

If it’s an important status update, send an email blast. But don’t overdo it. Consider combining small updates into your weekly or monthly newsletter. If you’re making a big announcement such as a change in strategy, an acquisition or a new business line, get everybody in a room and/or organize a video conference.

Companies that reach a certain size also use an internal portal where they regularly publish information of interest for employees.

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