Malik Mentoring: Closing the Communications Gap: Building Engaged Teams

In the previous article, we discussed common barriers to communication between executives and employees and how those barriers can negatively impact an organization’s productivity. Whether it stems from a lack of time or energy on the part of executives, or an unwillingness on the part of employees to ask questions and share ideas, barriers can make it difficult to build a stronger team, improve the organization’s output, and create a more engaged work environment.

In this follow-up piece, let’s discuss the how—how can executives and employees be on the same page when it comes to communication? Effective communication in the workplace is about so much more than instructions. Having an effective communication plan and giving employees the opportunity to voice opinions and be heard opens the door to new ideas, increased productivity, and employee satisfaction.

Let’s look at ways that executives and employees can work together to close the communication gap in order to build a stronger team, improve the organization’s output, and create a more engaged work environment. Here are a few tips:

  • Be open to what your employees have to say. It can be tempting to get defensive when you hear a viewpoint that challenges your ideas, but if you listen with an open mind, it can help your team and the company grow in ways you might not have thought of before. Executives who shut down new ideas or contradictory feedback may be perceived as egotistical by employees, and this damages employee trust. Employees need to know that senior leadership is open-minded when it comes to new ideas so that they feel like any new ideas they have will be taken seriously, not dismissed.
  • Give feedback in both directions. The communication gap between employees and executives is largely a result of executives failing to give feedback to employees, or not giving it often enough. However, it’s also important to note that employees need to be encouraged to give feedback as well. Executives should ask for feedback from employees on how they can improve their management practices and communication styles in order to enhance employee satisfaction and engagement levels. When executives ask for input from employees, they are increasing transparency between levels of management and building confidence and trust among employees, indicating  that their feedback is appreciated and valued.
  • Put a communications plan in place. Have a framework for how you’re going to communicate important, ongoing information with your employees. This plan doesn’t have to be set in stone, but it should have a framework and action steps that can be updated as necessary. Once you have the framework in place, you can measure your progress and keep track of what’s working and what isn’t. And then, when you need to make changes to improve communication or implement new goals or initiatives, you’ll have the data to understand how your organization is functioning and where it can improve. You’ll also be able to identify the gaps between what executives are saying and what employees are hearing, which will help you make better decisions about where resources should be allocated.
  • Get comfortable with being vulnerable and relatable. This will help break down the walls that often create separation. Executives are often expected to perform as if they are all-knowing and infallible; this creates an environment in which they can easily fall into the trap of being inaccessible and unapproachable. But if executives spend less time trying to appear perfect and more time being open with their employees , then the communication gap will begin to lessen. One of the most effective ways to do that is by being vulnerable—by showing your employees that you’re not some untouchable, unfeeling robot, but a human being with emotions and fears just like them. 

Leaders that have developed a solid communication plan and work towards closing the communication gap can build a stronger team, improve the organization’s output, and create a more engaged work environment—which ultimately can lead to increased profitability! 

The key takeaway here? It’s possible to bridge the communication gap between executives and employees—what are you doing to fully close that gap in your organization and with your team?

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