As a manager, communication is often the first discussion with a new team member, and establishing the expectations and culture surrounding communication early on can be a game-changer for a team. By having a clear understanding of internal communications, employees are better equipped to face challenges and have a solid foundation of how to handle questions, concerns, and workplace stressors. These 7 tips are a great way to lay a communication foundation.
1. Respect the Chain of Command
One of the chief concerns of an open-door policy is front-line staff jumping the chain of command and skipping over supervisors to go straight to upper management with ideas or concerns. While every teammate should feel able to speak to management, there are instances and issues where involving the entire team matters. If an issue is brought straight to you, don’t make a decision on behalf of the appropriate supervisor. This is a good opportunity to re-direct and circle the conversation with the entire upline. This shows the employee you are involved and care, but also respect the opinions and decisions of your staff.
2. Discourage Hierarchy
While the chain of command is important, so is giving attention and energy to each employee regardless of their title. An idea from a lower-level employee should be given the same respect and thought as others. If a concern is voiced by a front-line staff, it should be heard and addressed. As a manager, you should also not partake in favoritism or offer any special privileges to certain employees.
3. Don’t Let Altercations Fester
Workplace altercations are a natural occurrence in the modern-day workplace. Instead of letting frustrations and gossip run the storyline, be sure to address things directly and calmly. Respecting personal differences while maintaining open conversation is possible, but requires diligent and honest effort.
4. Make Mistakes Okay
Psychological safety is becoming an important aspect of the workplace, and employees feel like it’s okay to make and take ownership of a mistake and the solutions are a huge component of this. Open-door communication should strive to give staff the space to bring problems to the table without judgment and receive helpful feedback and guidance toward a solution.
5. Encourage Healthy Debate
Debate among a team for new processes, understanding and researching new ideas, and more can be incredibly healthy and can contribute knowledge and accountability towards an issue. This is a great tool for employees of all levels to feel heard and voice their concerns and flex their experience.
6. Establish If This is Venting or an Actionable Conversation
An important aspect to open door policy is establishing whether a conversation is intended to be actionable, or if they just need a listening ear. This lays clear expectations from the conversation and helps you be better prepared to respond. Tools can help you learn to navigate tough conversations like this.
7. Build Trusting Relationships
Like the above, an open-door policy lends a hand towards gaining trusting relationships in many areas. Being a better listener, giving all employees a platform, and creating positive working relationships.