Lesson 2: Topic 10 of 21
There’s direct payoff associated with good communication in the workplace. For one thing, new ideas often come from front line staff. They’re the ones who implement abstract ideas into daily work, after all, and are far more likely to interact with and solicit direct input from clients.
Those ideas might be for new ventures, commercial products, or marketing programs; they could also be improved workplace environments and best practices. You definitely want to reward good ideas! As Kouzes and Posner put it, “The leader’s primary contribution is in the recognition of good ideas, the support of those ideas, and the willingness to challenge the system to get new products adopted.”
Even if the suggestions made by line workers can’t be implemented, they will feel validated if you listen to them, genuinely investigate, and report back to them reasons why their suggestions can’t work ― especially if you thank them anyway and encourage future contributions.
When you communicate with your employees, especially the new ones, pay attention to not only what you say but the way you say it. Both content and delivery matter. Good communication must be part of your workplace culture.
More broadly, the best communication is that which is actionable, constructive, compassionate, specific, focused, timely, and presented in a positive tone. Are you going to nail that every time? Probably not, but it should be the goal you strive for, and what you expect from others in return. And this is something you not only want to model colleagues, but encourage them to do so as well.
Be sure your staff know you genuinely want their feedback. Host brainstorming sessions, conduct surveys, and maintain an ‘open door’ policy so your employees are confident you want to hear from them. You’ll want them to feel safe enough to tell you what isn’t working as well as what is working. You need them to have enough trust in you that they’re willing to share their input about changes you’re about to make or plans you want to implement ― without fear of reprisal or worry that you’ll be dismissive. If they have misgivings about a new venture, it might be because they see flaws or potential for failure that you’re not in a position to see.