Ineffective communication in the workplace can have a disastrous effect on your bottom line. On the other hand, when communication between employees, and between employees and customers is effective, you may see sales soar and employee job satisfaction reach an all-time high. For this reason, creating activities to improve effective communication skills not only benefits your business, it's critical to your business success. If you believe your employees could benefit from activities that improve their communication and listening skills, consider the wide range of communication-focused activities that will improve the way employees talk, listen, write and interact with their peers, supervisors and customers.
Mentoring, workshops, experiential learning, and communication skills exercises are a few ways to improve communication in the workplace.
Though mentoring often is viewed as a one-directional path for professional development, both the mentor and mentee can potentially benefit from the pairing. For example, say you have a mentor whose area of expertise is instructional systems design (ISD) who has been with the company for many years. During that time, she has excelled in her interaction with direct reports as well as clients but isn't as skilled in the latest technology for delivering classroom training. In this case, the mentee can learn from the mentor — usually through observation and coaching — how individual job performance can improve through one-on-one communication skills. Likewise, if the mentee is relatively new to the company but skilled in using technology, the mentor may also learn how to use the latest web-based tools for instructional design to communicate with classroom learners.
There are several workshops and seminars that teach participants effective communication skills. Developing a workshop that specifically addresses communication within your company can be especially helpful to employees. This kind of workshop might work on communication challenges between employees or between employees and customers. For example, creating a training course for newly hired sales representatives on how to understand customer requirements not only teaches basic listening skills but gives them tips on how to deal with existing customers and how to cultivate relationships with prospective customers. These kinds of communication-focused activities for adults are a form of experiential learning — interactive and hands-on.
Pre-employment testing and employee refresher courses may be useful in assessing the communication skills for prospective and current employees. As part of the selection process, your company might decide to use pre-employment testing to determine which applicants are best suited for certain jobs. For example, you could request a writing sample from applicants who apply for jobs that require extensive written communication either for internal or external purposes. For current employees, including communication skills as a performance standard enables you to formally review employee performance in this area. It's also an opportunity to provide coaching to improve verbal or written communication skills that will serve to enhance the employee's job performance.