Managers in small business have so much on their plates already that it can be easy to let the little things fall by the wayside. However, if there’s one thing you can’t afford to ignore, it’s employee communication. We reveal the six signs there might be poor communication with your staff, and offer strategies and tools to help improve it for good.
1. Always seen as the ‘negative’ voice
Do your employees have a say in how your business overcomes obstacles? If you find yourself regularly shooting down suggestions by staff, it’s probably time to reflect on your communication skills. Instead of responding negatively to comments from your employees, take a moment to ask yourself these questions:
- Is my solution to the problem objectively better than my employee’s?
- Have I taken the time to truly understand the reasoning behind their idea?
- Instead of brushing them aside, is there a way to incorporate their suggestion into the solution?
Rather than being dismissive, identifying the positive aspects of their solutions can mean the challenge is resolved quicker, and they will be more likely to help the business out when the next problem arises.
2. Too many ‘you’ directives
Does your team see you as demanding? Do you find yourself saying things like “You should be more…” and “You will do this by…”? Demanding actions and always focusing on the negatives is a sure-fire way to lose employee trust.
Avoid directives and replace them with neutral statements. Instead of saying “You should have been at the restaurant on time this morning” say “I noticed you were a little bit late today, is everything okay?” This allows you to acknowledge the issue, and gives your employee the opportunity to explain without needing to feel defensive.
3. Apathetic employees
Engaged employees are very easy to spot. Unfortunately, the same is true of unmotivated workers. Apathy can be a symptom of a poor work environment where the employee doesn’t feel appreciated. Stress in the workplace can be another contributor to lower performance. Take charge by demonstrating how much you appreciate all your employees – opening the lines of communication is the first step to defeating apathy.
Another way to improve staff motivation is to provide them with online workplace solutions. These can minimise wasted hours on tasks like clocking on and off, checking timesheets and submitting leave requests.
4. You have to shout to be heard
Unlike sole traders, managing a restaurant means you aren’t the only voice in the room. And you won’t always have everything go the way you want. When roadblocks appear, shouting at staff members will have the opposite effect of what you intend. Staff members who know their boss gets loud whenever something goes wrong will start avoiding them. That means problems can’t be resolved because you aren’t made aware of them.
Controlling your emotions isn’t always easy – especially when you have so much invested in running a business – but your employees also care about its success. If you trust them enough to discuss problems in a calm, professional manner, they will trust you enough to raise their concerns.
5. Staff are afraid to ask questions
In a similar vein, an emotional boss is usually one with little time for others. If your employees feel you don’t have the time or patience for their questions, they won’t be invested in improving the way the business runs.
Furthermore, staff who are afraid to ask questions tend to hide their mistakes out of fear, and they may make assumptions that could prove much more costly than if they came to you first.
6. Customers are complaining
It may not appear relevant on the surface, but customer feedback can say a lot about the status of your employee communication. If your patrons are making more complaints than usual – about any aspect of the business – then it’s probably a sign your workers aren’t communicating properly.
Employees who are happy and engaged will deliver service that grows your business’s popularity. So be a role model for your staff and treat them as you wish to be treated – that positivity will trickle down to your customers.
A strong workforce needs a strong foundation, and good communication skills are at the heart of a healthy business. Our tips, in tandem with a workplace communication tool, are the perfect place to start.