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Sudoku for Beginners: How to Improve Your Problem-Solving Skills
Are you a beginner when it comes to solving Sudoku puzzles? Do you find yourself frustrated and unsure of where to start? Fear not, as we have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to improve your problem-solving skills through Sudoku.
Understanding the Basics of Sudoku
Before we dive into the strategies and techniques, let’s first understand the basics of Sudoku. A Sudoku puzzle is a 9×9 grid that is divided into nine smaller 3×3 grids. The objective is to fill in each row, column, and smaller grid with numbers 1-9 without repeating any numbers.
Starting Strategies for Beginners
As a beginner, it can be overwhelming to look at an empty Sudoku grid. But don’t worry. There are simple starting strategies that can help you get started. First, look for any rows or columns that only have one missing number. Fill in that number and move on to the next row or column with only one missing number. Another strategy is looking for any smaller grids with only one missing number and filling in that number.
Advanced Strategies for Beginner/Intermediate Level
Once you’ve mastered the starting strategies, it’s time to move on to more advanced techniques. One technique is called “pencil marking.” This involves writing down all possible numbers in each empty square before making any moves. Then use logic and elimination techniques to cross off impossible numbers until you are left with the correct answer.
Another advanced technique is “hidden pairs.” Look for two squares within a row or column that only have two possible numbers left. If those two possible numbers exist in both squares, then those two squares must contain those specific numbers.
Benefits of Solving Sudoku Puzzles
Not only is solving Sudoku puzzles fun and challenging, but it also has many benefits for your brain health. It helps improve your problem-solving skills, enhances memory and concentration, and reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
In conclusion, Sudoku is a great way to improve your problem-solving skills while also providing entertainment. With these starting and advanced strategies, you’ll be able to solve even the toughest Sudoku puzzles. So grab a pencil and paper and start sharpening those brain muscles.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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Updated November, 2022 File C6-56
Good communication can help solve problems.
When organizing and operating a value-added business, disagreements can arise among committee members or project managers over how to solve problems facing the project or business. Using good communication skills can help the group find solutions. Practice the suggestions below to improve your communication skills during problem solving discussions.
The following communication rules can improve problem solving:
- State your problem and interests. Acknowledge others' problems and interests. Avoid name calling and answering a complaint with another complaint.
- Listen to the other parties and know their interests. Ask “why,” “why not” and “what if” questions to better understand. Use silence to demonstrate you are willing to listen or to help move the other side into a position to listen more effectively to you.
- Offer an apology when appropriate.
- Stay in the present and the future. The past has already been lived.
- Stick to the present topic.
- Look for areas of agreement.
- Set the time for the next discussion and take a time out if the discussion deteriorates.
- Use mutual restating until a party who continues to feel misunderstood feels understood appropriately.
- State requests for change in behavioral terms. Don’t ask for changes in attitude or feeling just to be different.
- Consistently express verbal and body messages. If negative feelings must be expressed, only use words. Show confidence in the process, relax, use good eye contact and show interest.
Nonverbal communication is important. The persuasiveness of a message depends on:
- Nonverbal communication - includes facial expression, movement and gestures.
- Voice communication - includes the tone with which the message is conveyed such as confidence, desperation, anger or condescension.
- Data communication - includes the actual meaning of words and any supporting information.
You can listen to each other and still have differences. These characteristics apply:
- Listen to understand.
- Accept that what the other person is saying is true for him/her. Respect the others’ feelings.
- Repeat for clarification.
- Find a point of agreement.
- State or restate your own opinion.
- Acknowledge another’s statements and state, “I will give it serious consideration before I take further action.”
When you receive feedback:
- Listen carefully and repeat what you heard.
- Ask to fully understand.
- Say thank you and state that you will consider their comments before taking further action.
- Seriously reflect on what you heard before taking further action.
When you give feedback:
- Separate the behavior from the person. Be specific and factual about behaviors. Avoid value judgments and demands for a change in attitude or emotion.
- Describe how you feel.
- Describe how this affected you.
- Be sensitive and respectful. Present this feedback as a gift, then leave it behind.
Mary Holz-Clause, former co-director, Ag Marketing Resource Center , former associate vice president for ISU Extension and Outreach
Former co-director, ag marketing resource center former associate vice president for isu extension and outreach view more from this author.
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13 ways to fix poor communication in the workplace
Solve communication challenges in the workplace with insights from PowerDMS. Here are 13 solutions to promote better understanding and collaboration.
December 22, 2020
- Why Is Organizational Communication So Difficult?
- How to Fix Poor Organizational Communication in Your Workplace
It can feel overwhelming to not only stay on top of corporate compliance issues but also effectively communicate relevant information to employees. And when there’s poor communication in the workplace, that only compounds the difficulty.
Imagine this: you’ve recently updated an important policy and you need to get the word out to all of your employees. Depending on the situation and size of your organization, you might hold an in-person staff meeting, send an email, hold a phone conference, or conduct a video meeting.
Regardless of how you communicate, the goal is to ensure that all employees understand the policy change and how it impacts their jobs.
But effective communication in the workplace can be tricky, including both casual, one-on-one conversations and formal, corporate communications. While they are both intertwined, the way to think about each of them is unique and issues that arise from poor communication are different for each.
Of course, if the people conveying information on behalf of the organization have poor communication skills, the efforts are doomed to fail (this might make a good training session for employees needing to boost their interpersonal skills.)
But what about the more formal, organizational communication efforts? How to resolve communication issues at work?
Before you can look at solving communication problems at work, it helps to first look at the problems that get in the way of effective communication.
Why is organizational communication so difficult?
If you’ve ever had a misunderstanding with a friend or family member because of a communication misfire , you’ve seen first-hand how situations can quickly unravel.
One person conveys one message but the other person receives a completely different message.
A variety of issues come into play on all sides (sender, receiver, and message), including tone of voice, faulty listening, missing information, assumptions of previous knowledge, and unclear explanations. And that’s just person-to-person communication.
Factor in a one-to-many communication effort and you can just imagine the fallout that might occur from a poorly executed effort.
Team communication (like a top-down attempt to convey a policy change to all employees) is anything but simple.
How to fix poor organizational communication in your workplace
With a broad understanding of the issues at play, you can learn how to improve communication at work by following the guidelines below.
1. Establish baseline communication standards
Create a set of standards by which your company communicates both internally and externally. This will build a solid foundation on which future communication efforts can be built.
Depending on your organization’s needs, you might create brand guidelines, conduct communication training, or something else.
Consider, for example, when you order a meal at Chick-Fil-A. Every time, employees end their customer interaction with the phrase “my pleasure.” That’s no coincidence – it’s a communication standard set by the company for how it wants the business to be perceived.
This doesn’t just apply to customer-facing communication. How do you want employees, team members, direct reports, or your board of directors to perceive you, your work, and your communication effort?
2. Create a safe space for communication
Employees need to feel comfortable voicing their opinions, offering ideas, reporting issues, asking questions, and sharing criticism.
Whether you look at this from a top-down perspective (both to and from direct reports and leadership) or horizontal (colleagues and team members), your organization needs to create a safe communication environment on all levels and in all directions.
For direct reports, they need to feel comfortable bringing issues to you, knowing they’re in a safe space when communicating within the set standards mentioned above.
For your leadership, you need to feel comfortable approaching them with issues. If not, gently force the issue to uncover the reasons why it isn’t a safe space for broaching problems with them.
While horizontal communication focuses more on personal communication skills, it’s important to recognize issues that could arise from poor communication at this level. Plus, it underscores the need to support each other in fostering a safe space to share questions and concerns.
3. Must be consistent and constant
When it comes to communication in the workplace, employees should be able to rely on consistent efforts. By setting standards as mentioned above, communication should sound consistent.
But it goes beyond that. Effective communication in the workplace should come through consistent channels and vehicles and people.
Don’t keep people guessing, and don’t overwhelm them with too many channels. Employees should be able to expect when changes or big announcements are coming and know the go-to source for getting updates. Thus, they should realize that if they miss one team meeting or email, they’ll be left behind.
This requires constant communication, not a one-and-done effort. If the only time employees hear from leadership is when a major problem or change crops up, they will begin to fear communication from those leaders.
That’s the exact opposite of what you’re striving for – a safe environment. Instead, they should be accustomed to hearing what’s going on and getting some warning (when appropriate) that change is afoot.
4. Set clear norms and expectations
While this resembles the advice to set standards, it’s more about the “how” of workplace communication in terms of the channel, the frequency, and the expectations.
Does it happen through email, in face-to-face meetings, via employee surveys, or some other mode of communication? What is the expectation for checking email after hours or on weekends? What is the norm for answering phone calls or text outside of the office?
For teams that work together over long periods of time, these norms develop naturally.
However, the business landscape changes at rapid speed, and what once worked a few years ago might no longer be effective.
Plus, although new technology makes communication easier, it often doesn’t convey body language, tone of voice, and other nuances of face-to-face discussions.
Therefore, it’s good to regularly address the “how” of effective communication at work.
5. Proactively seek feedback
Alarmingly, research from Gallup shows that more than 50% of American employees aren’t engaged at work. That could result in high turnover, decreased productivity, and dissatisfied staff.
Rather than wait for employees to approach higher-ups with issues, the company should be taking the initiative to seek their input.
Good workplace communication needs to be a two-way street if you want engaged employees who feel valued and motivated.
An obvious first step could be to conduct employee engagement surveys to get feedback. By regularly surveying employees, leadership can collect feedback and drill down into the data needed to monitor issues, improve workplace culture, and boost employee engagement.
However, surveys aren’t the only way to seek employee input.
Other feedback-gathering methods range from informal, one-on-one discussions to adding a Q&A component to weekly staff meetings.
The key is to integrate two-way communication efforts throughout the business to regularly collect authentic employee input.
6. Leverage technology the right way
Everyone agrees that email saves time, reduces paper costs, and is an environmentally friendly business practice.
But it’s not always an effective way to communicate. Just because you send an email doesn’t mean all recipients comprehend the contents or are able to adjust their day-to-day jobs in the way you want.
This especially holds true for official communication that requires action. Furthermore, assuming that employees will read and comply with important emails can put your business at risk.
7. Master your meetings
Meetings are the mainstay for most companies, especially businesses wondering how to improve communication in the workplace.
They can be both a blessing and a curse.
On the one hand, they can be a productive way to get multiple people aligned and working toward the same goals. However, if run poorly or have too many extraneous people involved, meetings can have the opposite impact.
If you’re seeing communication issues in their workplace, meetings can be a quick win and easy adjustment.
Simple but effective strategies here include keeping meetings short, sending an agenda ahead of time, staying on topic, inviting only those people whose presence is truly needed and outlining clear action steps you want participants to take after the meeting.
8. Get control of mobile communication
Mobile technology isn’t going anywhere, but it presents unique communication opportunities and challenges.
It’s crucial to get control of how your organization communicates and how it expects others to communicate while mobile .
Again, this is part expectation-setting and part adapting to the changing landscape in a proactive, positive way.
9. Communication with remote employees
Remote employees are no longer an anomaly – they’re commonplace in businesses of every size.
If you have remote employees, you’ve got some means to bridge the location gap, including chat apps, video conferencing, and cloud tools. However, it’s easy for communication with remote employees to fall through the cracks, even if it’s not intentional.
According to research on “the deskless workforce” by Zogby Analytics , 38% of remote workers cited a lack of information and 39% cited the timeliness of information as the most common obstacles to their efficiency.
That’s why it’s incumbent upon the onsite team to include remote workers in informal conversations and ad-hoc discussions.
This can prove difficult at times, but it’s key to making them a part of the team. It might even take extra effort by the manager and leadership to keep remote employees abreast of what’s happening with both the team and the company.
10. Collaboration in the cloud
Cloud-based tools can be a godsend in getting work done and offer new ways to communicate within the organization.
However, they are fraught with landmines as digital communication doesn’t provide an opportunity to convey context or nuance or tone. What you think is a harmless comment or suggestion may not always be received that way.
This is especially true for leaders who might feel they are making helpful suggestions, but instead, employees take these “suggestions” as direct orders.
11. Make internal documents easily accessible
Employees are busy enough without having to spend a lot of time looking for internal documents. This is especially true for having to ask around for basic information like holiday schedules or vacation policies.
Besides wasting time and draining productivity, it frustrates employees to not even know where to find important documents and key information they need to do their jobs. Help employees easily access policies , procedures, guidelines, and other crucial information, making everything readily available and easy to find.
Not only will this improve communication in the workplace, but it will also empower employees to stay informed.
12. Break down communication silos
Silos exist in many organizations, even small businesses. When employees only focus on their own roles, departments, or objectives, they’re not collaborating with others.
Sometimes this means missed communication, where one department doesn’t know what the other is doing or worse, inadvertently undermines what another department is trying to accomplish. Other times, this means they lose out on the fresh perspective that comes with collaborative efforts – crucial for understanding the “big picture.”
But to improve communication in the workplace, you must be committed to breaking down silos when they are discovered. Include employees in the decision-making processes.
Let those who need to know be a part of the conversation. And be as transparent as you can be.
By taking the above steps (and doing them well), it gives you the freedom to hold employees accountable to the expectations you set. It also allows you to track who is and isn’t doing what’s being asked.
If you get this out of order and attempt to hold people accountable without fixing the other communication issues, it won’t work and employees will resist the changes being made.
Policy management tools like PowerDMS help you streamline how you manage your crucial documents. PowerDMS condenses cabinets full of paper into a central, secure, searchable online system – easy for employees to find, access, and use. Plus, it automatically disseminates, collects signatures on, and tracks your organization’s important policies and procedures so you know who has received and acknowledged each communication. Get key information on policy management and how it can help your organization here .
Admittedly, it can feel daunting to solve communication issues in the workplace. But understanding the internal roadblocks and following the guidelines above should empower you to improve communication at work.
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4 Communication Solutions for Common Problems
When you combine two or more employees together to complete a project, you run the risk of having some form of misunderstanding. It happens at virtually every organization, at every level of employment. However, if you are aware of how to handle these issues as they arise, you can overcome them quickly and move on to more positive collaboration.
To improve your effectiveness in combatting these communication problems, consider these 4 communication solutions for common work-related problems.
Solution #1: Diagnose Your Specific Issue
Typically, work-related communication problems fall into 3 areas:
- Silence: If this is the problem, your initial conversations may have been rushed, or status updates on projects or timelines aren’t being received frequently enough. You may find yourself asking questions about a project just to diagnose what needs to be completed.
- Noisy: Over-communicating can also cause significant problems for a business. This results in excessive amounts of meetings to discuss things that have already been discussed numerous times and there seems to be no execution on the actual project itself. You may find yourself dealing with conversations regarding irrelevant information or minor issues that don’t require such extensive discussions.
- Confusion: It may be that you have the right amount of communication, but there’s a disconnect with the mutual understanding. You may have thought you knew what was expected of you, but when you present your work, they inform you it wasn’t what they had in mind for the project. Or, maybe you answered a question but people are still confused as to what they need to do.
Change Your Approach
Now that you know what your specific issue is (Silence, Noisy, or Confusion) you can change your approach in an attempt to fix it. Try different communication methods like writing things out, talking through the project instead of messaging, use drawings or images to express ideas or provide examples. Step out of the normal ways you deliver information to better articulate your message in a new and more informative way.
No matter what your communication issue, active listening skills should be continuously encouraged. Poor listening skills are one of the most common problems among business communication today, but with a few minor changes, it can be improved.
- Pause after someone speaks and process what was said before responding.
- Clarify with the speaker if you are confused about something that was just said.
- If you were unable to hear something, don’t be afraid to ask to have it repeated for you.
Everyone communicates a little differently than the next person, but in order to have a successful and informed team, you must set expectations of how communication should occur within your organization. Maybe you will need to request additional project status meetings or reports for milestones, or maybe you need to implement some new tools to ensure communication flow improves. Whatever changes need to occur to fix your communication problems, they should be documented and presented to the organization so everyone is aware of what is expected and how it will help the business.
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All families have disagreements and arguments. It is normal for families to find themselves arguing more often and experiencing bigger emotions during times of stress and unexpected changes. When people feel stressed-out, worried, or frustrated it is harder to be patient and listen to others. This section can help you and your family to successfully communicate and solve problems about upsetting topics.
Keep in mind that a main goal of communication and problem-solving is to make sure that everybody feels like they have been listened to and that their opinions matter . When kids or adults believe no one cares what they say, they are more likely to get angry and storm off, causing the discussion to come to an end. Allowing everyone to talk, listening to each other, and working together makes it more likely your family will be able to come up with solutions that everyone accepts, even if nobody gets exactly what they wanted.
There are three main steps to problem-solving:
- First, define the problem by sticking to the facts . When people get upset, they tend to make assumptions and take other people’s actions personally. Whether or not these assumptions are correct, accusing people of purposely being rude tends to make them angry. To avoid making accusations that lead to others being defensive, focus on the facts and don’t speculate about other’s motivations. Try using “I statements” to explain how you feel without blaming others for something they may not realize they are doing.
- Once you have agreed on the problem, the second step is to work together to come up with possible solutions . Most importantly, make sure everybody gets to offer their ideas and that no idea gets rejected. No one, not even parents, have all the solutions, so it is important for kids to have the chance to offer ideas. Once you have a few ideas, consider the strengths and weaknesses of each idea. As always, this works best if everyone is patient and listens to each other. It can help to repeat what you heard the other person say so that everyone feels understood.
- The third and final step is to choose a solution that seems most likely to be successful and best fits everyone’s needs. Communication and problem-solving is an ongoing process. So, part of choosing a solution is planning to meet again later to review progress, make revisions, and reward success.
The following simplified steps can help everyone communicate about problems more successfully.
- Describe the problem that is concerning you.
- Express how the situation makes you feel.
- Propose a solution and invite other suggestions.
- Weigh the pros and cons of the proposed solutions.
- Choose a solution that is the best fit for everybody.
- Set a time to review, revise, and reward success.
You can download a detailed explanation of these communication and problem-solving steps as well as a worksheet to practice using them.
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How to Fix Poor Communication in the Workplace
Poor communication can lead to reduced productivity and morale. Learn how to improve communication in the workplace to create more effective teams.
Now, multiply that kind of dynamic by the number of people in your organization, and you begin to see how essential workplace communication can be. How are we going to get anything done if we don’t understand each other? Let’s take a quick look at the causes and effects of poor communication in the workplace, and then find ways to fix it.
Identifying the causes of poor communication
Little or no feedback.
In any workplace, communication plays a critical role in maintaining an effective and efficient working environment. When management fails to provide feedback to their staff, it can cause poor communication. Without feedback, employees may feel neglected or undervalued, leading to a lack of motivation and decreased productivity. Not only that, but misunderstandings can arise, and tasks may not be completed as expected, leading to frustration and tension between management and staff. Effective communication requires both parties to give and receive feedback. Without it, problems can go unaddressed, causing a breakdown in communication and ultimately leading to poor performance and decreased morale in the workplace.
Clear objectives focus attention and get people organized. When they’re unclear or unspoken, employees get confused, frustrated and blocked. When feedback is unclear, staff may not understand what is expected of them or how they can improve their performance. This can lead to frustration, confusion, and decreased morale among staff. Furthermore, fuzzy feedback may cause management to make assumptions about the staff's level of understanding or ability, which can result in unrealistic expectations or inadequate support for staff development. Overall, clear and precise communication is essential to avoid misunderstandings and promote effective communication between management and staff in the workplace.
When people don’t feel valued or respected in their work, they often lose interest and simply tune out. This can lead to misunderstandings, mistakes, and misinterpretations of expectations, causing delays, low productivity, and ultimately damaging the team's morale and organizational culture. Additionally, when employees are demotivated, they may also avoid communicating with their supervisors, leading to a lack of transparency and trust. As a result, it is essential for managers to prioritize employee engagement and motivation to ensure effective communication and a positive work environment.
Closed mindedness in a diverse workplace
Cultural diversity helps companies grow, but it can also lead to miscommunication. Companies that do not educate employees in diversity can run into trouble.
Good managers clearly communicate objectives. Poor leaders struggle with making decisions, answering questions, and clarifying goals. When the leaders fail to provide clear directions, it can result in mistakes, missed deadlines, and poor performance. Unclear communication can lead to misunderstandings, conflict, and low morale among employees. As a result, it is important that leaders provide clear and concise guidance, set realistic expectations and encourage open communication to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals.
The benefits of good workplace communication
Effective communication in the workplace helps businesses and organizations in countless ways. When people listen and believe they are heard, they feel motivated to connect and engage. Effective communication also helps to build trust and transparency between employees and management, which can lead to improved job satisfaction and higher levels of productivity. Additionally, open communication channels provide employees with the information they need to make informed decisions, which can result in better collaboration and problem-solving. Overall, good workplace communication is essential for creating a positive and engaged workforce.
How to fix poor organizational communication in your workplace
There are a few simple actions your organization can take, and policies you can easily implement, to significantly improve communication with your entire workforce. Here are five tips to get started:
1. Get communication training
Educational organizations such as ASU CareerCatalyst specialize in job-relevant communication skills training offered online to help your team better cooperate, collaborate, and tackle problems together.
2. Create an open-door policy
Offer a safe space for employees to voice opinions, offer ideas, ask questions and share concerns.
3. Use an internal communication app
Slack and other instant messaging or social software can be the next best thing — and often help to complement – face-to-face meetings and a shared workspace.
Take meeting notes on deadlines and responsibilities and share them afterwards to ensure everyone is on the same page and understands expectations.
5. Get feedback
Effective communication in the workplace is a two-way street. Ask for input, give people a voice at meetings, and provide options to respond anonymously.
Improve workplace communication in your organization by partnering with Arizona State University
One of the most comprehensive, efficient, and accelerated ways to improve communication in the workplace is by offering Communication training from the Professional Skills for Everyone Series, offered through ASU CareerCatalyst. With this program, learners acquire the kinds of interpersonal skills that aren’t necessarily taught in a traditional education setting. CareerCatalyst makes world-class training from a top-tier research university accessible to all learners at every stage of their careers.
With courses that help you develop resilience, decision making, communication, digital intelligence, collaboration, conflict management, strategic thinking, coaching, feedback and culture skills, the ASU Professional Skills for Everyone Series empowers all learners to develop the job-relevant career skills they need to reach their goals in a minimal amount of time.
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4 Ways to Fix Poor Communications in the Workplace
An intranet is mission critical to your internal comms strategy. find out why today..
Poor communications are an ongoing challenge for many organizations, but when it comes to turning your comms around, it can be difficult to know where to start. This article outlines some of the common reasons behind lackluster comms and four ways to correct them.
Effective communications are crucial in helping organizations to thrive and stay competitive. The right comms strategies drive employee engagement , making workers more productive and adding value across the entire business. They help the entire organization stay in the loop about key company information, news, and events while creating a strong internal brand and a company culture that empowers employees.
However, in today’s digital workplace, it’s harder than ever to capture attention and ensure your communications are resonating. With so many moving parts in our working world, many companies find that their comms aren’t making an impact or get lost in the shuffle.
When a company has poor communication, the effect can reverberate through the organization, leading to significant cultural issues and widespread dissatisfaction. It’s important to regularly assess the effectiveness of employee communications so that you can identify any areas for improvement and take steps to correct them. This article explores how poor communications develop in an organization and offers four ways to fix them.
Poor communications in the workplace
1. measure, analyze, and devise a plan, 2. keep communications simple and approachable, 3. listen to your audience, 4. harness the right tools.
An intranet can help solve your organization’s toughest challenges
A challenge that internal communications professionals face when developing employee comms strategies is needing to understand and engage a very diverse audience with a wide variety of needs and preferences.
This is made even harder by a slew of additional hurdles such as limited resources, differences in work styles (frontline vs. in-person vs. remote), and varied leadership needs and opinions.
When all of these factors come together, it’s not uncommon for comms to suffer.
However, poor communications are a dangerous problem that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Organizations that fail to effectively communicate are more likely to struggle to sustain standard business objectives such as employee retention , engagement, productivity, and even customer satisfaction.
For over 40% of workers, poor communication reduces trust both in leadership and in their team. Remote workers were more affected, with 54% reporting poor communication impacts trust in leadership and 52% reporting it impacts trust in the team. For on-site workers, poor communication did not impact trust to the same extent, though it still had a big impact: 43% reported trust in leadership was impacted and 38% said trust in their team was affected. Forbes
It’s important to stay vigilant for signs that your comms aren’t cutting it. Your organization may be suffering from poor communications if you have:
- Limited or excess internal comms channels available to staff
- Frequent misunderstandings or mix-ups between colleagues or departments
- Employee complaints about being overwhelmed by notifications from too many apps and platforms
- Inconsistency in the type and frequency of internal communications
- An intranet platform that isn’t meeting company needs
- A leadership team that isn’t on the same page about the role of comms within the organization
- Organizational or departmental conflict
- Lack of regular communication methods such as one-on-ones
- Low employee morale
- A struggling company culture
- High staff turnover
If you’re experiencing any of these situations, it’s time to take a closer look at your comms. Once you acknowledge that there’s work to be done, you’ll be well on your way to creating a better workplace where employees can thrive and organizational goals can be achieved.
Four ways to fix poor communications
Many comms professionals struggle to measure their internal comms due to limited qualitative and quantitative indicators and therefore avoid the process entirely. However, to stay competitive, you need to know how you’re performing. It’s essential to track the level of engagement with and employee sentiment around your content.
There are a variety of ways to measure how effective your current communications are. A few examples include:
- One-on-ones and group discussions with specific questions that help understand what content and comms methods your staff find most engaging
- Email statistics – check your open and click-through rates for past communications
- Pulse surveys – add a few questions to your next pulse survey that assess how employees feel about the way you’re delivering company information
- Internal and external audits – run an audit of your employee communications content and messaging, or hire a third party to analyze it for you
- Intranet analytics on how users are engaging with your content
The resources you have at your disposal will determine which method is going to be most effective within your organization. If you have robust intranet software , for example, you’ll have many more analytics to work with. If you have a more basic setup, you can still get valuable information through traditional methods, such as email statistics or employee focus groups. Once you’ve gathered some takeaways from these conversations, you can use them to set targets that are aligned with your organization’s goals and objectives.
For example, if employees report being most engaged when receiving updates via video, you may want to set a target to ensure you send out at least two videos a quarter communicating company news.
You may discover in group discussions that employees are overwhelmed with the number of emails they receive. Creating a monthly employee email newsletter instead of sending multiple dispatches each week can drastically reduce the number of emails landing in your audience’s inboxes. Set a rule that you’ll confine less time-sensitive content to that newsletter going forward.
Once you’ve identified what’s working and what isn’t, along with any major issues with your existing communications, you can set these targets and implement the necessary changes. However, this shouldn’t be a one-time exercise; you must continue to monitor, measure, and control your targets to truly improve your comms and engage your workforce for the long haul.
Employees are busy. They have projects to juggle, coworkers to meet with, and customers to serve, and oftentimes internal communications will come through while they’re in the midst of these activities. They may only give your messaging a glance or cursory read-through before getting back to what they were doing. The data supports this as well, with a recent study showing the average email only receives nine seconds of attention . This means that if what you’re saying isn’t abundantly clear, its meaning may get lost in the shuffle.
Keep your comms simple and to the point. If you have an announcement to communicate, give a short and basic overview, and then share what this means for individual employees. For example, if there is a new process for employees to submit sick time through your intranet, start with a straightforward description of the change and why it will make employees’ lives easier. Then move on to simple, clear instructions for how to complete the process.
Keeping things organized and brief will ensure that you get the highest quality attention from your audience. If you have the opportunity, run your message by a few coworkers and ask them how easy to understand it is – they may have some fresh insight or spot some unnecessarily complicated language you’ve overlooked.
Another important aspect of what makes comms successful is tone. The tone of your messages will, of course, be dictated by the type of information you’re communicating. Announcing the annual holiday party will look different from sharing a major organizational change. But no matter the situation, you need to put yourself in your audience’s shoes and consider any unintended effects of your tone.
For example, let’s say you’re sending an organization-wide email advising of a change to company working hours. Your tone should be professional, but if you lean too formal you may be perceived as harsh or cold. This could result in employees becoming angry or rebellious toward the change. Giving it a human touch, or even simply providing a contact person for employees to reach out to with any questions, can go a long way to making your comms less robotic and corporate, and more relatable.
Employee listening is fundamental to organizational growth and deserves to have a major influence on your internal comms strategy. Many companies say they encourage feedback but don’t take any action to respond or acknowledge it. This is often because they aren’t getting the right type of feedback, lack a dedicated strategy for putting feedback into practice, or are afraid of calling attention to any complaints and unhappiness. Yet not knowing what your audience wants is the source of many poor communications.
For companies that find themselves dealing with poor communications, the natural reaction may be to increase the number of emails, messages, and internal memos. However, an overload of information won’t fix the problem, especially if you’re not listening to employees to see what would add value to their experiences. To truly fix your comms, you’ll need to pause to gather the right data on what your employees want.
Opening several feedback channels can help communicators discover what is causing their problems. It’s important to mix up the types of feedback you’re getting. Employee pulse surveys and questionnaires are popular as answers can be numeric, making the results easier to quantify, evaluate, and find solutions to. However, taking a qualitative approach through individual or group conversations will give you more nuanced, in-depth information. Observing employees’ emotions and body language can make it easier to assess their genuine pain points and challenges, allowing you to better understand your workforce and tailor your comms accordingly.
You can also gain valuable information when an employee joins or leaves the company. Onboarding is a great time to find out an employee’s thoughts and first impressions of your communications throughout the preboarding, orientation, and training process. Similarly, incorporating a question or two about comms during an exit interview can reveal a great deal about how effective your employee messaging has been.
Once you have the feedback, you must take action. You need to put together a clear picture of your audience so that you can target your future strategy and messaging. Creating employee personas can be helpful here. Having listened to what your employees want and need, it will be easier to create comms that engage them and make an impact on their workdays. This also means you’ll be better at squashing any potential poor communications in the future before they can do any damage.
Remote working, flexible hours, dispersed employees, and digital workplaces have made effective internal communications more important – and more difficult – than ever. With so many new developments in the way we work, communicators need solutions that will help them and their entire organizations adapt.
Oftentimes, poor communications are the result of poor technology. In so many workplaces, there are too many channels and platforms, creating confusion about which ones to communicate over. This results in wasted time, notification fatigue, and comms that don’t reach the people they need to.
Implementing a digital workplace solution such as an intranet can improve your internal comms by providing a centralized hub for the whole organization. An intranet makes it easy to disseminate information, giving your company a dedicated forum for top-down, bottom-up, and lateral communication. With an effective intranet, employees know they can access everything in one place, eliminating channel overload and giving everyone what they need, when they need it, no matter their time zones, locations, or roles.
An intranet has the power to segment communications, allowing organizations to adapt messages to user needs and characteristics to get the right info to the right people. It also allows for more engaging formats based on importance and subject matter. Certain messages will get more engagement as blog posts or videos, while alerts are more fitting for others.
Another area where workplace communications often fall short is in reaching the many different types of workers within an organization. To engage everyone, your communications must be easily accessible to employees in various types of roles. Mobile-friendly intranets are very effective at this, as they can be accessed across laptops, smartphones, desktops, and tablets. They allow your comms to reach desk-less workers, who are less likely to be connected. An accessible and centralized intranet will empower them by providing them with the same access to information as their office-based colleagues. A mobile employee communication app can be beneficial in the event of an internal or external crisis, enabling the organization to get a message out and prevent panic, misunderstanding, or confusion.
The right technology can go a long way in rescuing poor communications, so if you’re struggling with your comms, look for ways to get the right tools. When you’re clear on what you need and the benefits it will have for the organization as a whole, it’s easier to make your case, and you’ll soon be on the road to better comms.
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