How to Improve Office Communication: Part 1

We’ve all had that Michael Scott moment, haven’t we?

You’re sitting in a meeting that seems to be going on forever and whoever is leading the discussion seems to be rambling on without an end in sight. It’s reminiscent of one particular scene in The Office in which the hapless Scott says, “Sometimes I’ll start a sentence and I don’t even know where it’s going. I just hope I find it along the way.”

Lack of a clear goal is one of the quickest ways to undercut office communication but, as experts have pointed out to us, bad communication habits aren’t permanent.

There are dozens of ways you can improve the way that you transmit information in your workplace, whether it be an important meeting, a brainstorming session or an intra-office email with details about a company picnic.

This post and the upcoming one for next month will offer some excellent reminders on how you can rehabilitate and strengthen the communication in your workplace.

Invest in a Strong Intranet

Intranets are a classic double-edged sword situation. Having one is a great way to ensure clear communication about events and benchmarks but it can be the bane of your team if it’s not properly designed and optimized for fluid communication.

Darya Afonava, a marketing specialist with software development firm ScienceSoft, says it’s time you make your company intranet the fulcrum of correspondence.

“They offer solutions that optimize connecting employees with their teams, managers, HR, etc. For example, personal pages can be helpful for task distribution and progress assessment,” Afonava said.

Another advantage with intranets is that they can be a platform for team projects, accessible from the office and at home.

“They can also facilitate joining working groups, sharing professional experience or discussing business issues,” Afonava said. “It is especially important for newcomers, since they need to navigate in a large flow of new people and information.”

When You Need Clarity, Don’t Be Afraid to Call

We’ve gotten so used to sending emails back and forth to our colleagues that phone calls seem almost antiquated.

However, many an issue can be resolved with a three-minute phone call instead of a carefully crafted email that takes up at least 10 minutes of your time.

Email was intended to be a quick way to communicate, but it’s not always the best solution for getting clarity, says Ayesha Gallion, senior communications editor at Inteplast Group.

“Sometimes a phone call is more convenient for one party, or even all parties involved – but if one person shies away from this kind of fluid communication, completing projects or collectively finding solutions may take longer than needed,” she said.

Gather Data About Personalities and Use It

The golden age of personality tests is slowly fading but there are still uses for tests like the Meyers-Briggs and Enneagram.

For career coach and TEDx speaker Tracy Timm, a test called the Predictive Index is her go-to assessment tool when she consults with businesses about how to improve workplace communication.

The test highlights various aspects of each employee’s personality and helps everyone understand that while one person may need to talk out solutions to a problem, another might need to think it out first.

In fact, she encourages those who take the test to leave the results on their desk or in common areas where their co-workers can see it.

“I find that because these profiles are readily available they can be used in the moment to remind someone of the similarities and differences between herself and her coworker,” Timm said. “This allows for real-time change in behavior and analysis of self. But it all comes down to a person’s willingness to modify their behavior and communication for someone else.”

Employees who aren’t willing to communicate undermine the process, so it’s important to bring in talented people who are coachable, Timm said.

Looking Ahead to Part Two of Our Series

In our next post, we’ll go over four more expert insights into how to improve office communication.

While many of the tips we provide are related to communication methods and theories, remember that office communication also includes the choices you make about workstations.

We specialize in providing solutions for your office, many of which improve productivity and communication through simple choices about desks, cubicles and furniture.