Creating a Culture of Open Communication
One of the mantras to boost employee morale, inspire excellent performance, and promote a warm corporate culture is to create a culture of open communication within your organisation. Let’s take a look at some simple means of integrating open employee feedback into your organisation.
- Always encourage and keep the channels of communication open 24/7
It is a good idea to get a feel for your direct reports by asking them how you are faring as a manager and what are the things they like and dislike about you in your role, while continuously highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. Prompt feedback is always welcome as it allows issues to be resolved immediately. It is best to avoid feedback via e-mail, as there is a likelihood of messages being misguided, misunderstood, or missed altogether. Encourage communication in person or if required even over the phone.
- Have weekly one-on-one meetings with your direct reports
You must schedule weekly one-on-one meetings with each of your direct reports. These informal and personal discussions enable issues to be addressed without interrupting the rest of your working week. Make sure you stick to the date. By rescheduling, you will be perceived as inaccessible, or your direct reports may feel they are less of a priority for you. This kind of impression can make your feedback process murky.
- Organise weekly or monthly staff meetings
When you organise monthly or quarterly staff meetings, it is an excellent opportunity for sharing key information such as new initiatives and board decisions with all the employees. You must schedule these kinds of meetings when you have vital information to share especially after several days since the last board meeting. You must ensure to make these meetings a fun discussion. For instance, you can begin by sharing a relevant story or by recognising a certain employee’s latest accomplishment. Avoid projecting bossiness or generating a feeling of boredom as it will alienate your target audience. Keep time aside for Q&A session. The meeting should be such that your teams are well informed, and they have their key concerns or queries addressed.
- Conduct annual reviews
The annual reviews should be formal one-on-one discussions with consistent standards that measure the performance of every employee. If your organisation is one which has a history of poor feedback strategies, then you need to be prepared to face some resistance during the annual reviews. In such a circumstance you need to reassure your employees that the final objective of conducting this annual review is to generate a positive outcome and not negative reprimands. You must strive to open more channels for employee feedback so that everyone is aware where they stand before the actual annual review takes place. This will make the process of annual performance review a less stressful experience for your employees.
- Conduct anonymous surveys
Surveys are essential means of regularly assessing your organisation’s ‘health’, culture and the overall happiness quotient of your employees. It also helps to measure the employee engagement level in your organisation. Always share the results and trends derived from the survey with the entire organisation. It is important for you to maintain the anonymity during these surveys. Anonymity makes the employees feel comfortable to voice their opinions. You must also strive to close the loops by preparing yourself to respond to the feedback of your employees.
- Promote 360-degree reviews
While 360-degree reviews may be challenging, but they will show you the means to correct your course of action. It is suggested that a licensed professional needs to conduct 360-degree reviews, discuss feedback, and also offer proactive, positive advice for enhancement.
- Carry out internal assessments
Conduct post-mortem debriefs. These meetings focus on the internal assessment of important projects or deals. These assessments discuss what worked successfully and what can be done better the next time. It is important to retain the key learning for the next big deal or project and to convert the challenges into opportunities for improvement. It is always important to emphasise the positives along with the negatives.
- Organise informal team outings
It is always a great idea to have informal team outings such as a trip to the local bowling alley, a team lunch or dinner, or informal get together as it provides an opportunity for employees to loosen up. However, as a word of caution, you may want to lay off the booze for these meetings to get too informal and out of hand.
- Share an e-mail communication to all staff members
Make it a practice to share an e-mail communication to all your employees once a quarter on the strategic direction of the organisation or to share company values or goals. These e-mail messages are a significant way of keeping all your employees in line with the bigger picture beyond the purview of individual teams or functions.
- Have employee exit interviews in place
Irrespective of the size of your organisation, you must ensure that you conduct an exit interview with your departing employees and note down their reasons and experiences for leaving the organisation. There are high chances of receiving valuable feedback during these interviews as people are often quite open in these exit interviews. You must consider the comments derived from employees seriously and ask your HR team to share the present trends and takeaways from these exit interviews to the management annually. This needs to be done so that you can take necessary actions and retain valuable employees and boost the overall morale of your employees.
To create a culture of open communication, it takes a lot of effort just as it does in any kind of relationship. It is quite easily overlooked especially when the business is running smoothly!