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Think communication is a soft skill that has nothing to do with your bottom line? That your culture isn't "touchy feely," and people can put up or shut up - and preferably the latter? Then you're putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage. Companies that communicate effectively provide better value to customers, deliver greater financial results to shareholders, and attract, engage, and retain top talent. Employees want to know how their piece fits into the overall puzzle. So tell them.

The Importance of Regular Communications

No one wants another meeting. Scratch that: no one wants another pointless meeting. A productive, positive weekly session, though, can help facilitate effective communication and engage employees. As a leader, take time to get together with your teams and ask:

  • What did you do last week that you're proud of?
  • What are you working on now that I can help you with?
  • What else would you like to do? Are there projects you'd like to work on? Areas in which you'd like to be trained? Opportunities you'd like to pursue?
  • So many of the problems plaguing organizations, or impeding their success, could be alleviated if leaders in every department justnmet with their people once a week. Depending on the size of the organization, you could even hold a monthly company-wide debriefing to give your people a heads-up on events or changes that are might be coming down the pike.

Show Them How They Fit

Some businesses owners are just scared to do it. I hear this all the time: "We can't just tell the employees what our profits are!" Well, no one ever told you that you had to disclose how much money you're making or give a line-by-line reckoning of the profit statement. Why don't you just tell your people how the company is doing? Better yet, why not tell them how the company is doing and how their work has contributed?

The bottom line is that every employee is there for a reason. Maybe they believe in the vision; maybe they like the culture; maybe they're passionate about the work. Whatever the reason, they want to know where the organization is headed, how it's performing, and if what they're doing contributes to the whole.

Employees may have come to an organization for any number of reasons. There are a few that will encourage them to stay: they want to make a positive impact, and they want their involvement to be acknowledged. It's not kumbaya; it's, "Hey, you're doing a great job. Thanks for being here. We're so glad you're with us." It's such a little thing that produces such a big impact, and it doesn't cost a cent.

If organizations want to keep their top employees, and moreover, keep them engaged, they've got to start talking. Regular updates, timely check-ins, frequent reminders that people matter - it's not that hard. There's no excuse not to communicate effectively with employees. And not communicating effectively is certainly no excuse for losing your best people.


Larry Hart

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