New Manager

Fostering positive workplace communication

TK Santhosh | Updated on January 20, 2018


At the core of positive workplace communications is the management of employee relationships.

Managing the workplace environment in any organization with a large number of people can be challenging. Workplace satisfaction then does not depend just on the management policies in the workplace but also on how people interact with each other. Sensitivities such as workplace bullying, gossip, peer group interaction and workplace conflict can play an important role in determining how an employee views the company. Since thoughts can be contagious, and often lead to negative talk and action, there is a need to foster a positive and supportive environment in order to increase loyalty, retention and productivity.

At the core of positive workplace communications is the management of employee relationships. Employee relations can be of three types: Peer- Peer , Individual - Manager and Individual- Leadership. Fostering healthy relationships at all three levels along with a maintenance of a positive workplace environment can ensure a better workplace environment.

Peer-peer relationships

People form the most important part of an organization. Peer-peer relations may often be the most frequent form of engagement in the office. Making the right choice of people is essential to foster a positive workplace culture. Successful companies spend time and money on attracting, retaining, and developing people with the right values, cultural fit, and attitude.

An emphasis on healthy peer—peer relationships in the office environments in the form of more team building exercises, counselling at the workplace, encouragement of politeness and courtesy can go a long way to improve Peer-peer relations. Peer relationships can increase loyalty to the company, increase job satisfaction, build an in-support network and serve as a powerful motivator.

Individual-Manager relationships

It is often said that ‘People don’t leave companies, they leave managers’. Encouraging healthy relationships between individuals and their managers is important. Managers must be encouraged to make mentorship an important part of their responsibility areas. Flexibility and good listening skills can further go a long way developing such relationships. Management workshops should be conducted frequently that encourage them to bring a positive outlook to the workplace and set an optimistic attitude for the people that report to them.

Encouraging managers to communicate clearly with employees while consistently acting in accordance to the company’s culture and ethics can set an example for employees. Encourage them to value employees as human beings, invested in their growth as individuals through constant communication of their job performance and mentoring them to foster better workplace relationships.

Individual-Leadership relationships

Positive messages from the leadership can create a positive outlook at the workplace. It begins with the purpose and vision of the organization. Consistently reiterating those messages in unique ways can drive purpose for employees, which is ultimately what can motivate them. Fostering a personal connect between leaders and employees at all levels of the organization can be a strong motivator and key to deriving an emotional commitment from employees.

Wherever possible, the leadership and upper management should interact with employees in a spontaneous day-to-day basis. This can be done in multiple ways: through social outings, providing personal recognition and at employee forums and focus groups. Again, at the leadership level, it is important to communicate the value you see in employees beyond their work and provide them with opportunities for growth through regular skill-based training.

It is important for organisations to conduct regular self-assessments in the form of communication audits to identify which communication practices work and which need to be improved. Employees must also be encouraged to communicate their feedback, suggestions and concerns in a healthy manner. Management must react to such suggestions quickly and in a positive manner. Providing rewards and recognitions for suggestions wherever possible can position your organization as one that is open to constructive criticism and invested in developing a healthy workplace environment.

Social media role

Social Media has added a new dimension to workplace communications and must not be ignored. Communication on social media can have an overbearing impact on how the external world sees your organization, which include existing employees. “Listening” on social media consistently can help better assess the health of your employee’s relationships with peers, managers and leadership. Encouraging participation from employees on social channels through employee engagement activities will enable a spirit of team work. Cyber bullying and conflict on social media between employees must be managed to the greatest extent possible.

Douglas Conant, New York Times bestselling author on leadership said “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.” Positive communications at the workplace between peers, managers and leadership will ensure a healthy workplace environment with little room for negative talk. The spirit of optimism and commitment from your employees can take organisations miles ahead in the industry.

The writer is Director (HR), Dell India

Published on March 15, 2016

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