Employee communication is one of the backbones of an organization. Individual ability to share information, create buy-in for ideas, analyze data, give and take criticism, benefit from mentorship, and work together in an effective and productive manner all depend on communication.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t great at it. Everyone from people in janitorial jobs to the CEO can struggle with communication, which can impact your business and its output a great deal.
Setting goals to improve communication is a valuable thing for most organizations. Be sure to review how to do so, what’s reasonable, and how you will achieve those goals. Most organizations can use the following process to set reasonable and achievable communication goals.
Analyze Your Existing Employee Communication
It’s impossible to set goals for improvement without a deep understanding of where you are now and why. This means analyzing how individuals communicate, how well they do it, and what’s impeding better communication. You can typically achieve this with a multi-part assessment starting with a baseline of where communication should be. Most employee assessment organizations can provide data to this extent.
Self-Assessment – Distribute questionnaires asking individuals to rate their own communication and that of others. Questions should ask why, where, and how communication goes right or wrong and give space for individuals to offer input on how to improve.
Leadership Assessment – Have managers give input on how well their teams communicate, what’s impeding them, and why.
Review Results – No matter how teams are rating themselves, you can typically analyze actual communication by spending a small amount of time in the team or by asking questions relating to problem-solving, conflict-of-opinion, and so on.
Review Training & Development Possibilities
A good needs assessment will determine where employees are good at communication and where you have gaps. For example, many organizations struggle with emotional intelligence, which allows individuals to communicate with others in an empathetic manner.
Communication problems can stem from a range of issues, many of which you can solve using training or development:
- Teams are using different tooling and cannot easily communicate with each other
- Individual lack emotional intelligence and don’t take others into account
- Hierarchy gets in the way of good communication
- Poor workplace culture prevents quality communication
- Some individuals don’t fit into the team culture
There are many potential obstacles to good communication, but this short list of examples shows they can stem from HR issues that require improvement, organizational structure issues, and from individual failings which can be trained and improved.
Recognizing where your issues are coming from (you will typically have several) allows you to target solutions and work to improve them.
Consider Your Employees
Most organizations will employ a wide range of individuals with different communication styles and levels of emotional intelligence. Make room for this in any communication goals you set, so that individuals who naturally struggle with communicating in one-on-one or in group settings will still have opportunities to excel.
Once you’re aware of your issues, your possible fixes, and how your individual employees communicate, you can plan solutions. This will, in turn, allow you to set actual communication goals based on data. Here, you can set goals such as “improve communication by 20% within 3 months of taking EQ training.”
You might also set goals such as “Improve by X% after successfully restructuring team hierarchy.” Here, you are tying goals to achievable actions which would enable that increase, making those goals much more tangible and realistic.