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Communication

Via HR Technologist : 7 Tips On Promoting Effective Communication Skills at Workplace

Effective communication skills are essential to succeed in your career. Learn these 7 steps to take to improve communication at workplace and get benefits.

Good communication between team members is essential for effective work. It can bring people closer, solve any problems and increase engagement. Poor communication, on the other hand, only leads to misunderstanding, obstacles and ineffective work.

You may believe that you already have good communication skills – but the thing with communication is that it can always be improved.

Here are some ideas on how you could promote better, effective communication at work:

1. Listen to your team members

People in higher positions usually feel like they have to all of the talking and none of the listening. This is wrong for many reasons. For one, people that have a more hands-on approach often have better ideas on how to improve the work environment. They often know where the problems occur, what the most effective time of day is and how to improve efficiency. Be open to their ideas and listen to what they have to say. If you believe that you are a good listener already, pay attention to your habits at work – notice if you start interrupting your team members if you start spacing out or looking at your devices while they speak to you.

2. Create a communication-friendly space

Your role as an HR manager is to make sure that the work environment is always open in terms of communication flow. Speaking up should never be something that your employees are afraid to do. Set an example of how they should behave – always say good morning and address them by their names, ask them questions to get the conversation going from the start of the day. When you speak to them, don’t appear distracted and disrespectful and always make sure that any problems are solved by communication and not by arguing. This way, your employees will have a hint at what they should do if they run into a disagreement. Encourage good interaction outside of work – building these relationships is important. Let your employees know that they can come talk to you whenever they need to. An open-door policy is a good way to create an effective environment.

3. Ask for feedback

A good way to keep the communication going is to move forward from the traditional top-down communication lines. Ask your employees to share their ideas, thoughts, complaints in any way they feel comfortable with. Some of them will enjoy having a conversation whenever possible but some will be shy and would prefer other means of communication. Offer emails and resources where they could let you know what their opinions are – some email writing tools that you could recommend are Academ Advisor, Via Writing or Boom Essays. Allow them to talk in meetings as well, let them ask questions – this is the best way to promote good conversation and educate them.

4. Host team-building games

This may not be the most often used way to improve communication at work and sometimes it might not be appropriate but it is certainly effective. Team building games are fun and employees grow to have better relationships with their colleagues as well as their managers if they are involved. “These don’t have to be elaborate – you could simply make a game out of writing something unexpected about yourself on a piece of paper, throwing it in a hat and letting everyone guess whose unexpected confession it is”, – explains Stephen Davis, an HR manager at Essayroo and Study Demic writer.

5. Open a platform for anonymous feedback

As previously stated, some people might have some trouble speaking publicly or letting everyone know how they feel. This is why it’s a good idea to have a system for anonymous feedback. It can be as simple as a box or a book for anonymous opinions or as elaborate as a forum for your employees. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to share their thoughts this way – even those who like speaking in person will give you a more honest opinion when they feel safe. This can give you great ideas on how to improve your current processes.

6. Have monthly one-on-one meetings

Instead of speaking one-on-one with your employees annually, make it a habit to hold these meetings once a month. It’s a good idea because you’ll have a better representation of how they feel, what is happening in their office and personal life and you’ll also build trust this way. If they get used to speaking with you once a month, their walls will come down and you’ll be able to get a full picture of their thoughts. Set a schedule of these meetings and let your employees know on time – you can use tools like StateOfWriting and UK Writings to create accurate emails so that there is no confusion.

Final Thoughts

Working as a team is good for sharing ideas and boosting productivity. However, these efforts can be hampered if the communication between team members isn’t good. Make sure that you maintain open lines of communication and that you are constantly working on improving them further.

Via Monster : How to disagree with your boss without losing your job

Clashing with a higher-up can be career-killing, but a few strategies can make it much more manageable.

It’s tricky when you have a beef with your boss. How do you disagree with a person who most likely hired you—and has the power to potentially fire you?

Say something, and you run the risk of being seen as difficult or even adversarial. Stay silent, and you could seem ambivalent or complacent.

“I think we have a lot of fear about bringing up opposing ideas because we think it’s going to create conflict,” says Rebecca Vertucci, career coach and principal at the Vertucci Group.

“But your boss wants you to be successful. Often we’re surprised by being able to say something and it not going as poorly as we thought it was going to.”

Your company hired you because they think you’re an asset, so bring your experience and point of view to the table—but do it strategically:

Step 1: Time it right

Bringing something up at an inopportune time can spell doom for whatever issue you’re trying to address.

“I think what happens is that people feel like their opinion isn’t important, so they bite their tongue a few times,” says David Couper, a career and work expert in Los Angeles. “Then, they’re in a meeting and disagree in the heat of the moment. Then it becomes really heated.”

Choose the right moment—likely a private chat—to discuss things.

“I worked with a Big Five partner, and the easiest way to get him was to grab him in the hallway between meetings and give him two to three facts about why I disagreed,” Couper says. “Nine times out of 10, I would succeed.”

Step 2: Know your boss’s motivation

Key in any negotiation is understanding what the other side values. The best way to get them to listen is to be able to reflect back to them that you understand what’s important to them.

This might take some detective work on your part.

“It may be that you have to ask some good questions, because you may not understand what’s behind the decision or action that you’re disagreeing with,” says Tammy Gooler Loeb, a career and executive coach in the Boston area.

So before you state an opposing view, “You have to understand what it is you’re disagreeing with at the root.”

You can use this information to frame your suggestion as something that’s different from theirs—but that still serves your boss’s ultimate purpose or priority.

Step 3: Make it their idea

If you present information in the right way, you might change your boss’s mind about things—and let her come to her own conclusion.

The way to do this gracefully is, “you kind of accept what they’re saying (even if you don’t agree with it), come back to them, talk about other issues, and if you’re smart enough, they come up with the new idea, which is kind of what you wanted,” Couper says. “They’ve just changed their mind because you’ve given them information.”

This approach will usually take more than one discussion, so don’t give up. Plan on having a few conversations over time to make this happen.

Step 4: Help them look good

“When managers and bosses are dealing with their team, they get a lot of the brunt of what’s not working and the complaints,” Vertucci says. Remember that your boss is trying to look good, just like everyone else, and if you can help her do that, you’ve got a greater chance of success.

“You may not agree with them, and you may have some constructive feedback, but if they feel like you are trying to help them shine, they will be more open to your ideas.”

Step 5: Don’t wait until the last minute

No matter what, make your thoughts known while there’s still a potential opportunity to take action.

“Sometimes people will bring up a dissenting point of view after the fact, when no one can do anything about it, and that’s just not productive,” Gooler Loeb says.

That said, it could be that it’s too late already—and you just don’t have enough information to know that. But to the extent that you can, act promptly.

Step 6: Be prepared to lose

There’s always a chance that you’ll speak your mind and nothing will change. And you have to mentally prepare for that possibility.

“Your point may be taken, but it may not be taken well, in that it’s not going to change anything,” Gooler Loeb says. “It doesn’t mean losing your job, it just means you may have to comply with something that your boss feels is the best approach.”

If that’s the case, give it your best can-do attitude. “Take that lemon and make lemonade,” Gooler Loeb says. “Try to learn from that or understand it, even if you disagree with it. Trying to understand it will help you at least be able to support it.”

Step 7: Be prepared to leave

If you find yourself in one of those jobs where you can’t seem to see eye-to-eye with your boss about anything—or she never seems to want your feedback, it might be time to look for a job where you can respect your manager a bit more. Or, where your ideas can be heard.

Join Monster and you can upload five different versions of your resume, so you’ll be ready to send the right one out as soon as you see a good match. We’ll also email you new jobs as soon as they’re available, so you can jump on them and get yourself in a job where you’re growing in your career—not butting heads with your boss.

Via Grammarly : How to Collaborate Effectively at Work (and Why You Should Care)

“No man is an island,” the English poet John Donne once wrote. Nearly 400 years later, if you’re into creative, ambitious work, that sentiment is truer than ever—collaboration is often essential.

It also might not feel like your strong suit. Maybe you feel weird without your headphones in and would much rather work alone. But even then, chances are your efforts are part of a greater whole that hinges on your abilities as a collaborator to succeed—so you might as well speak up.

It’s an area where we can all stand to improve, and Grammarly has you covered. Here are six tips to help you become a better collaborator.

What is collaboration, anyway?

Working in collaboration means everyone can contribute ideas—so it’s different from the kind of teamwork where a group marches in unified lockstep to realize one person’s plan or goal. Collaborating means hearing people out, melding different ideas together, and building toward a shared objective.

Put another way, if you’re not steadily communicating about what you’re trying to accomplish and how best to go about it, you’re not really collaborating.

Part of communicating is listening and understanding.

Collaboration doesn’t work if only one person does all the talking. Fostering a collaborative space means making room for other people to share their ideas—even the shy ones. (That said, making a point of giving a quiet person the floor doesn’t help much if they feel suddenly called on like a daydreamer who zoned out in algebra class.)

Part of getting people to open up and share valuable ideas is helping them feel like they’ll be heard. That means being patient and generous—a facilitator, not an autocrat.

Correct: That’s an interesting idea. How do you see it fitting into this project?

Incorrect: You already know that idea is unrealistic, so just hush.

Also, if you are one of the quieter ones present for a collaborative discussion, recognize that you’re in the room to participate, not just observe. That’s not always the case in life—and yes, people who think all meetings should be collaborative are insufferable—but in this case, it’s good to show you’re engaged by saying what you’re thinking.

Keep the conversation open ended.

One of the challenges of the collaborative process is getting past the blue sky stage where people throw out ideas, and onto distilling the results into an actionable plan with defined deliverables. When you’re trying to clarify what you’ll actually be doing, it helps to ask questions rather than issue decrees, like so:

Correct: What problem are we trying to solve?

Incorrect: Our next iteration just needs to look more like the competition’s.

Correct: What timeframe will it take to achieve meaningful progress?

Incorrect: I need this done and dusted before Thursday’s board meeting.

A useful strategy to get people on the same page is to try repeating their points back in your own words. This helps crystallize the takeaways and can reveal any discrepancies or misunderstandings that need to be addressed early on. It can also be worthwhile to capture key ideas on a whiteboard, sticky notes, or a shared screen.

Know when to ask for help—and be delicate when offering it.

One of the joys of being a collaborator is you don’t have to have all the answers. A truly collaborative endeavor is one where it’s okay to take risks—and to go to your colleagues when you need guidance. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it shows that you’re interested in getting better at something, have recognized someone else’s skill, and feel secure enough to take some time out for your edification.

Likewise, you want other people to feel at ease getting help from you, not forced, as in this example:

Incorrect: You’re doing it wrong. Here, let me show you how an adult does it.

Correct: I noticed you’ve been working on that part for a while. Let me know if I can help out, okay?

Don’t make your collaboration messier than necessary.

Over the course of your project, you and your collaborators will likely find things to disagree about. It’s worth remembering there’s value in drawing from perspectives—even if only a fraction of the insights this process yields will be perfect.

For the rest, be diplomatic. Know when to hold your tongue. Keep in mind that kindness, while not always effortless, is rarely a waste of energy.

At some point, someone will probably have to say “no,” or at least “not right now.” And someone else will have to live with that. This is part of what separates a collaborative process that sets and achieves its goals from an endless digression on things people wish would happen at some point. In other words, while it might not always feel like it, it’s often a good thing.

When you’re done, share credit—and say thank you.

There is no quicker way to exclude yourself from a group’s future collaborative endeavors than to claim all the credit and glory for yourself. It’s simply not a good look when you could instead be graciously acknowledging the contributions of your peers and bringing donuts.

Lastly, take a moment to reflect on what you learned and what you hope to improve going forward. Such lessons may come in handy the next time you’re called upon to collaborate.

Via BizFluent : Importance of Effective Communication at the Workplace

Improved communication at work is directly related to increased productivity in a company. That’s because employees aren’t struggling to understand each other, their duties or the company’s overall goals. It can take time and money to improve communication in a business, but the end result is almost always worth the effort.

Tips

  • The benefits of effective communication in the workplace are increased productivity, decreased employee conflicts and improved customer relationships.

Increased Productivity

Every business can benefit from increased productivity, and effective communication practices can help achieve this goal. It can also help managers better understand their employee’s talents and skills, assign them to the most suitable jobs and give clear direction to ensure the work is done properly and in the shortest amount of time.

Effective communication is critical to efficient job training. When an employee enters his position knowing exactly what is expected of him, he will be able to jump in with both feet. On the other hand, an employee who doesn’t understand the job will either flounder and make mistakes, or repeatedly ask for help.

Reduced Conflicts

Most conflicts in the workplace are caused by communication breakdowns. It only makes sense then that effective communication can reduce conflicts in the office. The three most common types of conflicts in a workplace are:

  • Misunderstandings or the feeling of being misunderstood.
  • An inadequate understanding of how other people communicate.
  • Someone feeling that their needs are not being met or are being ignored.

Furthermore, communication conflicts can arise when workers are from many different cultures and there may be misunderstandings related to language and interpretation. Effective communication within the workplace can help ease all of these potential problems.

Better Client Relationships

One of the most important aspects of successful salesmanship is building quality relationships with customers. And the single best way to do that is through effective communication. Every employee working in customer relations needs to have excellent communication skills. Poor communication in a customer service department can result in lost sales and a tarnished reputation if the customer feels she was misunderstood or mistreated and shares her story with friends, family or the world at large on social media. Above all, it is critical that a company practice excellent communication with their customers before, during and after a purchase.

Other Benefits of Effective Communication

Effective communication in the workplace cannot be overstated. When the goals of a company are clear and everyone is on the same page, there tends to be an improved workplace culture since employees understand where they fit in and what they are supposed to be doing. Bottom line, it improves morale.

Employee relationships can also benefit from good communication, which results not only in the employees being more productive but also in improved morale as they may begin to think of one another as friends rather than just co-workers.

Effective communication will also allow management to know what works and does not work when it comes to motivating employees, ensuring the company spends time and resources on motivating techniques that actually work. This is yet another way good communication techniques can improve morale.

Companies with good communication practices encourage employees to speak up and employees tend to feel more comfortable in these settings. This can result in greater innovation as the employees do not feel like their ideas will get shut down when they are shared.

Via Nextgov : Open-Plan Offices Have a Surprising Effect on Workplace Communication

A new before-and-after study led by a Harvard Business School professor might bolster the already strong case against the open office plan.

Unlike previous research, it uses empirical evidence rather self-reported data to show that airy, communal spaces do not a buzzing, collaborative environment make.

Ethan Bernstein, an associate professor of organizational behavior, built the research around a real-life renovation at the headquarters of an unnamed Fortune 500 company engaged in a “so-called war on walls.” He had employees wear people analytics badges that track (but do not record) conversations through anonymized sensors, which gave the professor and his co-author data they could compare against changes in online communication. (To minimize the effects of outside factors, their research took snapshots of two three-week periods that fell at that same point in different business quarters, one before walls were banished, and one after.)

In two studies, the researchers found that conversations by email and instant messaging (IM) increased significantly after the office redesign, while productivity declined, and, for most people, face-to-face interaction decreased. Participants in the first study spent 72% less time interacting in person in the open space. Before the renovation, employees had met face to face for nearly 5.8 hours per person over three weeks. In the after picture, the same people held face-to-face conversations for only about 1.7 hours per person.

These employees were emailing and IM-ing much more often, however, sending 56% more email messages to other participants in the study. This is how employees sought the privacy that their cubicle walls once provided, the authors reason. IM messages soared, both in terms of messages sent and total word count, by 67% and 75%, respectively.

The second study compared dyads, or conversational partners, among 100 employees on the same floor of the building. It found that people who sat near each other spoke more to those in their pod of six or eight desks when they were no longer in cubicles. Overall, however, face to face exchanges decreased.

Humans are not like insects

The authors call the social withdraw they captured in data a “natural human response” triggered by a change in environment, but they acknowledge their findings contradict an established theory about collective intelligence. When forced to share space, humans behave much like swarms of insects. This has appeared to be true in a range of contexts, the authors note, citing studies involving the U.S. Congress, college dormitories, co-working spaces, and corporate buildings.

However, as far as we’re aware, hornets and wasps are not as psychologically and socially complex as people. For instance, they do not regularly switch between their front-stage self and back-stage self, managing the impression they’re making, per a longstanding theory about humans.

People are better at rote tasks, rather than creative ones, when we feel we’re on display, and part of our mind is therefore preoccupied by social pressures, Harvard’s Bernstein has suggested. Knowing that others are watching us limits the degree to which we might creatively solve a problem, and therefore be more productive, according to a study he conducted with factory workers. “Do I look busy?” becomes more important than “Am I doing my best work?”

Importantly, the new study also found that when spatial boundaries disappeared, employees didn’t simply take their usual in-person exchanges online. Rather, they began emailing more with some people and communicating less with others. In other words, an open office can reconfigure employee networks, which obviously can change the way teams work.

Social media versus social offices

Bernstein believes the new study reinforces an existing argument that says intermittent social interactions, rather than constant ones, optimize our ability to work out complex problems. Spatial boundaries, he writes, help people “make sense of their environment by modularizing it, clarifying who is watching and who is not, who has information and who does not, who belongs and who does not, who controls what and who does not, to whom one answers and to whom one does not.”

Keeping an eye on all of these things in a sprawling, open space can lead to overload, distraction, and poorer decisions.

It’s perhaps a bit strange we haven’t adapted better to this, in an age that has many of us openly sharing vast portions of our lives on social media. But as Bernstein once told workplace strategy consultant Leigh Stringer, in an interview on her website, “We want people to follow us online, but not necessarily motion-by-motion in the office.”

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