In the Know: Communicating effectively with employees

February 20, 2020 By    

In the Know is a monthly partnership between LP Gas and Propane Resources. Our focus this month is on best practices for communicating with employees, addressed by marketing and communications director Tammy Day.

Q: What are best practices for communicating with employees? Do these strategies differ among generations?

A: Most of us would agree communication is key to a successful business and happy, fulfilled employees.

When owners and employees are unhappy with each other or situations in the workplace, a breakdown in communication is often the main reason. Important information may not have been shared, affecting reactions to or performance in a situation. There are many (and I do mean many) good practices for communication with employees. Here are just a few:

Be approachable. Walk around your office and engage in small talk. It’s good practice for delivery of important news and information in the future.

Be repetitive. Continually repeat the details of important information or procedures so they won’t be forgotten.

Respond quickly. Employees will feel appreciated, and customers will love you.

Be present. Close your laptop, put down your phone and eliminate distractions. Give full attention to the person with whom you’re conversing.

Take notes. With so many distractions today, our memories are unreliable.

Never assume. Ask questions so you won’t misinterpret the situation.

Promote open communication. Provide opportunities that invite and promote open communication on group and one-on-one levels. Regular meetings, lunches and activities with your employees remind them you are available to them.

Put employees first. When there is important information concerning your business or its practices and policies, relay the information to your employees first. They should never hear news secondhand.

Customize your communication style. Some employees are more visual and may need to be walked through processes and procedures, while others are OK with a simple conversation.

Consider alternate ways to communicate. Maybe you have employees at satellite offices or employees such as drivers, service techs and sales staff who are not always available for face-to-face communications. You’ll need to decide which avenues of communication work best for each. Will they respond better to email, texts, instant messaging, phone calls, video chat, etc.?

Speak through the gaps. Is there really such a thing as a generation gap? Or is the generation gap an easy excuse to cover for poor communication? I looked into the communication preferences of different generations (traditionalists, 1900-45; baby boomers 1946-64; Generation X, 1965-80; and Generation Y or millennials, 1981-2000), and guess what? Each generation wanted to be spoken to face to face. They didn’t want a letter or prefer a fax. They didn’t require a phone call or a text. They want verbal communication. There are a few differences in how the verbal communication is presented, but it is still communication in verbal form. It comes down to seeking to understand the other person and being flexible and open in your communication styles.

Tammy Day is director of marketing and communications at Propane Resources. 

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