Tips on How to Open Dialogue with Employees
Effective communication helps employees stay positive and productive, yet why do many employers find it difficult to open up dialogue with their employees?
Opening up dialogue with your employees will enhance employee performance, morale and engagement, as well as establishing a culture that prioritises the comfort of its employees. Employee engagement and effective communication will encourage employees to work effectively together when achieving common goals.
If you begin to open up dialogue with your employees, you will also learn about any issues that arise and be able to resolve problems before they escalate. We’ve therefore set out 6 top tips on how to open up dialogue with your employees:
Practice what you preach. Ensure you are modelling the behaviour which you want your employees to follow. If you’re open and honest with your employees, they will replicate this behaviour. Employees ought to feel comfortable in sharing their views or issues without judgement or punishment, which in turn will enable issues to be dealt with quicker and more efficiently.
One critical skill to have for effective communication is to listen. Taking time to speak with employees about their concerns will show that you care about their wellbeing and want to support them.
Being polite and approachable as an employer, even by doing something as simple as saying good morning to your employees, can help bring down any barriers between you and your employees.
New approaches to communication
Social events are a great informal way to build relationships, which will encourage lines of communication between employees and managers to be opened up. The structure of team meetings can also be altered so that employees have more input and are made to feel that their contributions are valued by the business. This is a better approach and will lead to greater employee engagement than simply having a manager create the agenda and providing employees with information. Why not ask a team member to come up with an agenda?
Staying away from open questions such as, “Does anyone have any issues?” and instead being more specific, “How is Project X coming along? Do you feel like you are being micromanaged?” can also give employees more confidence to contribute in team meetings. By structuring your questions in this way you are showing the employee that you are open to constructive criticism, which in turn will open up the lines of communication.
Some employees will not feel comfortable discussing suggestions they have. One way to resolve this is to have a suggestion box. Employees can write down any issues they have, put them in the box for employers to review and these can remain anonymous.
Give employees an incentive to speak up. This can be as simple as a thank you or by taking a group of employees to a “Feedback/Ideas Dinner”. Rewards, such a gift vouchers, could be given to employees for carrying out company feedback surveys or coming up with ideas which improve the business.
Constructive not Destructive
Diminishing an employee’s confidence will make them more hesitant to contribute and is almost guaranteed to destroy any attempts to encourage open communication within your business.
Honest criticism and feedback is of course essential to the success of any business, but you should always be constructive. Also discuss ideas together. By listening to your employee’s ideas, even if you do not implement them, you will encourage them to always be looking out for improvements in themselves and the company and will give employees confidence to contribute to future meetings.
Many companies say they operate an open-door policy. But do they do literally that? Keep your office door open, if possible. An open door brings down the barriers between managers and junior staff and demonstrates accessibility and approachability. You will also have access to the informal discussions that take place about the business. As a closed door can give the unintentional impression that you are uninterested.
Trust and Confidentiality
If an employee trusts you, they are more likely to communicate any issues they have. It is impossible to have an open and honest conversation without trust. Trust grows over time and takes work from both employer and employee. As well as trust, if an employee knows that any concerns they may raise will be held in confidence, they will feel more at ease to discuss issues or concerns they may have.
A business can survive, but with open dialogue with its employees it can thrive.