October 31, 2011

A Few More Ways to Communicate with Your Employees

By Paul Bieber

Last week we discussed a short, weekly meeting with your co-workers. Today we will expand on this idea–how else do we communicate with the people we work with? A sticky note stuck to their computer screen? Sharing gossip at the cutting table? Purposely telling the office loudmouth, knowing your comment will be spreading like wildfire? Worse yet, maybe you don’t communicate and just expect your crews to learn what’s new by reading your mind?

Some people are not just good communicators, or good listeners. As a leader, though, communications are an important skill. If you are uncomfortable with a group setting, this is a skill you can learn by practicing what you want to say to your family at home. Write out your thoughts, making sure you do say what is important. Say your thoughts into a tape recorder and play it back. You will hear the areas you need to work on.

So, you have held your Monday morning, ten-minute meeting, now what. On Thursday, send a brief email to each person on your team with any updated thoughts. For your team members without email, just print out the note and give it to them with their paycheck! This should be short, maybe a hundred words, just enough to tell them something that will help their job. Maybe, just a funny story to place a smile on their faces.

Once a month, you should send out a company-wide report. Again, short and succinct, sharing sales targets and results. Many companies don’t share actual dollar numbers, but you can discuss the number of installations without a complaint or the number of new customers. Make this metric something that everyone on your team has a hand in achieving.

Next on the communication checklist is a quarterly gabfest. About a half-hour, where you discuss numbers and results. It is not always rosy news either. You can discuss problems in your company, or the industry in general. Schedule about twenty minutes of company news and leave ten minutes for questions. This should be the whole shift or the company, based on size. Cross-pollination of ideas can only help you!

Next item, a semi-annual company event. Maybe a summer picnic and then a winter holiday party. A hay ride in the fall, or anything that fits your locale. This is more fun than business. Encourage people to let their hair down and just enjoy being with their coworkers.

The last planning events for communication are the employee’s annual review for the quality of their work and to plan for the future. This should be done on the anniversary of their employment. This is the most important hour you will spend with each person you supervise. I’ll discuss this more in a couple of weeks.

Lastly, the review for the employee’s financial changes. This should occur about ninety days after your fiscal year ends and you have a realistic understanding of your success and how much you can afford to give in raises, if any.

Don’t put off or skip any of these. You will be better off as a manager and your employees and the company will benefit.