A Guide for Improving Your Team's Communication

Helping Improve Workplace Communication Every Shift

Team Communication is All About Consistency

A company's success depends on proper team communication throughout all levels - which can be tricky in today's workforce. Managers have a never-ending list of things to communicate, whether it be high-level company initiatives, changes, updates, bad news, good news, employee feedback, new regulations - the list goes on forever. Often times not everything is communicated clearly.

 

Ineffective team communication can result in:

  • Reduced employee engagement & productivity
  • Increased employee turnover
  • Decreased customer satisfaction
  • Reduced company profits

 

Team communication is the foundation of a company’s success. It fosters healthy and productive relationships between managers and employees - which then affects how smoothly each shift runs. With effective team communication, a company’s culture will thrive (and profits too, as a result).

 

 

The average cost of replacing an employee earning $8 per hour is roughly $3500

(Source: SHRM) 

 

Even if your business doesn't have 100 employees, you can imagine that miscommunication is still costly. On average, it can cost between $1,000-$5,000 for replacing hourly employees even for small businesses.

 

If you don’t agree that team communication is important yet, you will after reading the following guide.

 

After reading this, you’ll have a greater understanding of why team communication is important, and better yet, how to improve it. This guide reveals tips on how to improve team communication so all levels and facets of your business will benefit as a result. 

 

Read on to find ways to best incorporate these tips throughout your own team communication.

 

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Step 1: Communication Styles and Tips

Before we dig into how to improve your team communication, take a second to better understand what effective communication is.

Maintaining two-way communication loops within your team for improved customer relations, employee scheduling, company culture, and profits.

That’s right, proper team communication affects all aspects of your business. 

When effective team communication is done right, it will reduce employee turnover by improving culture and morale and daily mistakes made each shift.

 

Once you master team communication, your business will run like a well-oiled machine. You’ll be able to easily track each shift’s success and find more opportunities for improvement. Your company culture will flourish and your employees will be engaged and ready to work.

Before you can improve your team's communication - you'll need to take a look at yourself.

To instantly improve your own communication, follow these steps:


1 — Listen

We're sure you’ve heard before that listening is the first step to communicating.

Think about it. Your best manager, leader, or even friend, is probably a great listener. Being a good listener makes people feel valued and heard.

There’s a difference between someone just staring at you talk (but clearly not focusing on the conversation) and someone intently listening and absorbing what you have to say.

So, focus intently on what your employees are saying, and then follow up with questions if need be. Truly listening shows that you care as a manager.


2 — Master Non-Verbal Communication

Non-verbal communication plays a huge role in how things are interpreted. Learn how to control your body language as you communicate with employees or coworkers.

Your facial expression, stance, and gestures give a visual signal to the speaker, whether you intend for them to or not. Make sure you’re giving your employees non-verbal cues that you are actively listening to what they have to say.

For instance, try not to cross your arms - which signals you’re closed off and not fully in the conversation. Maintaining consistent eye contact and nodding your head are both ways to show you’re listening and engaged.


3 — Know Your Employees' Communication Styles

There are many types of people in the world - and probably many different types within your business. For instance, are you talking to an introvert or an extrovert? Both require very different kinds of communication and it’s your job, as a manager, to read your employees and figure out the best way to communicate with them.

Other communication styles to consider are:

Direct vs. Indirect: some people prefer to get straight to the point, while others go in a roundabout way to communicate something. 

 

Competitive vs. Affiliative: some people like to make decisions solo, and prefer to be in power.

Others prefer more collaborative approaches and want everyone to work as a team.

 

Visual vs. Tactile: some people learn better by seeing and listening, while others learn better on the job - by doing it or being led through it. 

 

It’s important to tailor your communication to match individual needs, instead of speaking to all employees in the exact same way. The best approach is to provide a mix of these styles during team meetings. Offer one-on-one meetings as well, and put in the effort to get to know how each of your employees prefers to communicate.

 

Not only will this help you to foster better team communication, but it will also show your employees that you respect and value them.


4 — Get to the Point

Everyone is so busy nowadays. Time just gets away from us. So don’t waste anyone’s time by elaborating on things that can be communicated quickly.

 

For instance, if you’re a manager asking an employee to do a simple task - there is probably no need to elaborate. Many managers have a tendency to micro-manage - this over-communicating could waste time, decrease employee morale, and negatively impact your team.

 

Learn how to trust your people to do their jobs correctly. Just make sure to clearly offer background information or further details when needed - so important information is never missed.


5 — Keep It Regular

Daily, weekly, and monthly employee meetings are necessary for keeping your entire team in the loop. If it’s not a traditional meeting - it should at least be frequent communication between team members.

 

Communicating well and often can help you build strong relationships with your employees, plus improve engagement and accountability (it’s a win-win).

 

Remember - effective team communication is all about consistency.

 

Now that you're a little more self-aware of your personal communication skills - you can learn how to get your team communicating effectively.

Step 2: How to Improve Team Communication


If collaboration is low, team communication won’t work. Your employees and other managers need to be engaged.

But, how do you get them to collaborate and communicate with you and other coworkers?

1 — Encourage Communication at Every Level
The goal is for your entire team to feel comfortable communicating. A great way to start consistent communication is to lead by example. Demonstrate daily the communication efforts and habits that you want to see from your team. Encourage other managers, and top management to do the same. Once your employees see the open communication habits growing - they'll follow suit.


2 — Have an Open Door Policy (Literally Keep Your Door Open)
Employees can be scared to approach a manager's closed door. This leads to a lack of communication all around. Keeping your door open for employees will help them feel safer approaching you and will foster more communication as a result.


3 — Encourage Failure
Employees that are punished for failure will always be afraid to communicate when they mess up. They'll be afraid to communicate at all. You want your employees to come to you for help if they need it. So start teaching your employees that there are learning opportunities in failure, and that failure is okay (as long as you put in the effort and try). Encourage your employees to come to you, or another coworker for help when they're struggling to get a job done. This will open new doors and will build a strong team.


4 — Give Employees Time to Speak
During your regular meetings, give the floor over to employees to speak about current projects or share goals they're working on each shift.

Or - have separate meetings for employees to open up about these things. Either way, giving employees the opportunity to interact with you and each other will foster great team communication and collaboration.


5 — Plan Time for Fun
When a team knows each other better, they will communicate more effectively. It can be hard to find time at work - so plan a team dinner or grill out once a month to foster that connection.

This will also help new hires get to know the team faster as well. Having fun and talking outside of work will actually increase your employee engagement inside of work - and therefore increase team collaboration.

Step 3: What to Communicate & How to Keep Track of it for Consistency

Having one place for employees and managers to go for taking notes on their shifts, checklists, or goals is incredibly important. It's also important for you, as a manager, to communicate goals and objectives clearly when it comes to taking shift notes.

Making notes each shift is extremely important for team communication. These notes can pertain to day-to-day shift operations or even long-term insights.

If kept up consistently, you have a manager’s log book in the making. This is a place to store all important notes and documents in an organized manner. The goal is to clearly communicate anything relevant to your team through a log book.

Still not sure what you should be documenting each shift?

Of course - some topics can be more confidential than others.

It’s also hard to keep track of everything in a binder. Loose papers can be a nightmare and impossible to keep up with.

This is why an online manager’s log book can make team communication way easier.

Either way, whether with pen and paper or using an online solution, here’s how to write shift notes for maximum team communication:

What to Include and Avoid

  • Each shift note should have enough detail to provide a clear picture of what happened without needing further information.
  • Keep in mind that detailed shift notes can also assist if legal issues arise.
  • Avoid using nicknames on your shift notes - clearly state whom the entry involves.
  • Stick to facts. Personal opinions should be avoided.
  • Be analytical and answer the “5 W’s” - who, what, when, where, and why.
  • Shift notes should be for business purposes only. The manager’s log book is not a place for casual conversation.

Keep Confidential Information Private

  • Be cautious of posting confidential financial or medical information.
  • Don’t label guests or employees using any of the Federally Protected Classes including race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, or age. This is important in the event of a discrimination claim.

Following these guidelines for your log book will improve team communication and make your life a whole lot easier as a manager.

Step 4: Find A System That Works for YOUR Team

Traditional manager log books can be fine for smaller teams. However, as a business grows and improves, its communication processes have to also grow and improve

More importantly, systemizing shift notes allows you to keep your team on track and accountable.

It's good to find a system that works for your team communication and is scalable - meaning as you grow, you don't have to change your system. 

Cloud-based technologies, like online log books, are a great option to improve team communication.

Some benefits include:

  • Managers can easily note important operational and personnel-related notes every shift in an organized fashion.
  • The log book is a place for data and document storage - meaning no more messy piles of paper or binders full of new hire training information.
  • It allows you to measure important stats and data (like sales and labor), to inform future decisions with actual quantitative data.

Having an online log book aids in communication between managers and other leaders within an organization, as well as employees. It also streamlines the process of team communication - making decisions easier and information clearer.

Why Go Paperless?

The most efficient option for employee scheduling is by going paperless and streamlining all scheduling-related communications into a single solution. Employees whose shifts are changing would receive an automatic notification, which makes it easy to communicate changes to those who need to know. Employees could submit availability virtually and managers could update seamlessly without spending hours fitting the pieces of the scheduling puzzle together.

A mobile solution can reduce communications that make scheduling messy. It allows managers to relinquish manual scheduling work associated with creating schedules so there’s more time to grow sales and profits.

Sounds great, right? You should check out how ShiftForce’s employee scheduling solution can help improve your shift-to-shift communication all around and reduce the amount of time spent on creating schedules.

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Ready for the Ultimate Employee Scheduling Solution?

Are you stuck in the dark ages of scheduling, using paper calendars built from Microsoft Office programs, Post-Its, or a long string of emails?

If this sounds like you… Listen up. Your life is about to get easier.

Enter employee scheduling solutions. Online, cloud-based scheduling tools support any shift-based organizations' demands and are a great solution.

Online employee scheduling solutions reduce the time it takes managers to create, communicate, and manage employee schedules. Online shift schedulers make your life easier in a number of ways. Consider finding an online shift scheduler with the following components:

 

Templates: Using templates to write schedules saves a ton of time… 50%, in fact.


Access: You – and employees – should be able to access the schedule anywhere and manage schedules via phone, computer, or tablet.

Forecasting Capabilities: Predict resource needs based on real data. Look for a solution that allows you to accurately predict resources vs. sales, so you’re hitting maximum profits.


Supports Additional Documents and Information: Find an employee scheduling solution where you can take notes on employees, upload supporting documents, like performance reviews or even “write-ups”. Make sure you find a tool that allows you to set permissions and access, too. For example, a manager or admin should be able to see all information, where an employee should be able to access their own information, but not other employees’ information.


Communication Tools: When you think about employee scheduling solutions, you may not associate them as a communication tool as well. Believe it or not, this type of solution exists that enables 24/7 real-time communication via email or text messaging, so your team is constantly looped in.

Reporting: Get the data you have never had before to create efficient shift scheduling online and streamline your profits. Reporting includes a daily roster, labor forecast, and schedule summary.

 

Managers can save 80% of their scheduling time (or six hours a week scheduling) when utilizing modern employee scheduling technology.

 

Start streamlining and improving your employee scheduling today!

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