How you communicate with employees matters so much more than the words and ideas you convey. At work, your communication tools are critical to building and maintaining trust.
In fact, more than 55% of employees have left jobs because they didn’t have a sense of trust, according to a ResumeLab survey.
So when you communicate with employees you want to gain and build their trust. That leads to quick clarity and understanding. Here are nine principles to communicate from experts at The Conference Board.
Lead with empathy
Create a sense of togetherness when you share information, showing how it affects all of you in similar ways.
You can also show compassion by recognizing how it will affect the team or individuals in different ways.
Be transparent, accountable
Employees want to trust what their bosses say. It’s important to treat workers as adults and be direct and truthful, especially when it’s bad news. Be transparent, explaining what you know, how you know it and how and when you’ll share more.
Commit to well-being
When you talk about difficult situations or share information that affects employees in negative ways, recognize their well-being as well. Remind them of organizational support and resources – perhaps formal channels such as counseling or informal channels such as talking privately with you.
They will almost always remember how you made them feel more than they’ll remember how the information affected them.
Stay situationally aware
Stay aware of how the information will unfold and affect employees and team dynamics.
Be open to feedback on how to go forward as circumstances evolve.
Managers can’t just drop information on employees and let it sit. You want to make sure employees don’t feel ignored after you’ve shared critical information.
The best way to maintain trust and employee engagement is to communicate relevant information often. Add “Ask Me Anything” discussions or daily email updates to your communication tools.
Make it a two-way talk
As much as you share information, you want to get input and insight. Use employee voices to communicate up the line of command, sharing their concerns and expectations.
Even better, schedule time when employees can communicate directly with executives for productive exchanges (not gripe sessions).
Help employees share experiences
Great managers make it easier for employees to communicate effectively about their cares and concerns, too.
Invite them to create discussion groups to safely share personal dilemmas, challenges, and needs. Then give them opportunities to take collective ideas to management for support or guidance.
Remember the big picture
Most communication efforts – especially in a crisis or unchartered territory – aren’t one-and-done. Recognize how the information or situation will affect the bigger picture of your organization or employees’ future – and speak to that.
Communication after the current situation – whether it’s an organization crisis or a major team project – is just as critical as in-the-moment communication.
Follow up to find out how employees feel about how well you communicated during the event. Get feedback on what could be done better.