You’ve likely heard over and over that communication is the key to any successful relationship. The stakes, however, get higher when it involves manufacturing environments. Interdepartmental communication provides purpose and builds a positive company culture. But according to Gallup, only 13% of employees strongly agree that leadership communicates effectively.
Navigating the waters of office etiquette can be a smooth experience for the most part if you honor the most basic ones, like the Golden Rule, for example. But successful communication —the kind that drives safety, quality, and productivity — requires a little more work and a little more understanding of the nuances . . . especially if you are a leader.
Sometimes a misstep can not only negatively impact an interpersonal relationship but the office environment as a whole which is why it’s best to immediately address a small matter before it becomes a big issue.
Here are some typical office miscommunication mistakes that may be affecting you and your team members:
Faux Pas: I’d like for this meeting to be quick, so I’ll just highlight a few key points and let everyone get back to work.
Reality: Meetings allow both managers and employees to be proactive by raising important issues before they become urgent. You might not be the only one who has something to say!
Best Practices: Ask questions during your meetings such as “What are you working on?” and “Is there anything you need from me?” Listen to the feedback — are there repeating issues amongst multiple employees? That’s something to look into that likely needs to change. Asking if they need anything from you might break down any communication walls they put up out of fear.
Faux Pas: I’m probably going to cancel this one-on-one with my employee. I’m busy and don’t have anything to say today that’s urgent.
Reality: Regular communication builds rapport and trust and provides opportunities for employees to feel comfortable providing helpful feedback.
Best Practices: Create a regular meeting schedule and stick to it, no matter what. This allows a relationship to build and create an environment of safety and trust, where an employee can talk about needs, growth, development, and any personal matters. In turn, this reduces absenteeism and promotes a positive culture.
Faux Pas: I’m just going to fire off this email quickly since I’m in the middle of a few things. Click click, send!
Reality: Ooh. You might have just sent an email to the wrong person. Or you may have written something inaccurate or riddled with errors…and now your boss is wondering about you.
Best Practices: Wait to add in email addresses until you have read and reviewed your email. Ensure that it is going to the right person as well — it’s easy to absentmindedly add the wrong person or type something other than what you intend to. In fact, it often helps to read what you wrote out loud. Hearing it can help you spot spelling or comprehension errors.
Faux Pas: Replying-all.
Reality: Does everyone need to take time out of their day to read what you wrote?
Best Practices: Reply all is for the rare event of broadcasting an actual emergency. Check before hitting send that the email is directed to the sender only. Email systems can be sneaky and sometimes include everyone in a reply, so make sure that you have selected a single email address in the “To” field.
Faux Pas: I have so much on my plate, I’m just going to send this email to everyone at once instead of sending different emails to different groups. That would just take too much time!
Reality: Not everyone is ‘One Size Fits All’.
Best Practices: Different departments and different levels of responsibility require communication that is catered to just them. Keep in mind that education levels are not consistent across the board, either. The effort that you put into catering messaging for each group that needs it will go a long way to creating a positive work environment, as it will be clear you care about ensuring that everyone not only receives important messages, but understands them.
Faux Pas: Confrontation isn’t really my strong suit, so I’m going to just let this one small thing pass. It’s no big deal, really.
Reality: Negative feedback is something everyone has to deal with. Ignoring a ‘small problem’ can soon turn into a ‘big issue’.
Best Practices: Learn to give constructive, diplomatic feedback. Practice with peers so that it becomes easier for you. Keep in mind that most people want to succeed and do the right thing and are willing to correct any misguided actions.
Faux Pas: I was walking by Ed’s station anyway, so I’ll just stop by and offer him feedback right then and there.
Reality: Not everyone feels comfortable receiving feedback in front of peers, especially if the topic is a sensitive one.
Best Practices: Pull the employee aside if you cannot meet in an enclosed space and keep the volume of your voice low. It’s human nature to eavesdrop, which can make it doubly hard when someone is on the receiving end of some constructive criticism. It’s also nobody else’s business, so do your best to provide a secure, safe environment for your employees.
Faux Pas: If I send an email, I’m sure they will get it, read it, and will reply in a timely fashion!
Reality: Everyday 205.6 BILLION emails are sent around the globe… only 1/3rd of them are opened!
Best Practices: If it’s really important . . . take the old school route and visit them in person or pick up the phone.
Taking the time to communicate effectively helps improve employee engagement. Gallup reports show strong employee engagement results in greater customer satisfaction, increased employee productivity, as well as less employee turnover and absenteeism.
Want to learn more about the keys to effective communication across manufacturing operations? Watch the full webinar for additional insights.