I have always played the mediator role in the relationships in my life. From breaking up playground feuds or acting as an impromptu therapist between couples during high school, it was no wonder I ended up studying internal communications.
From both my life experiences and my studies, my biggest take away was that for communication to work, everyone needs to know what is expected of them and, more importantly, why those expectations exist.
This is especially true in the workplace. And let me tell you, my friend’s fight over who got to keep the signed Nirvana poster after their breakup has nothing over some of the office drama I’ve seen go down between employees and managers over mishandled communication.
Employees and managers.
In most companies, there is a big communication gap between managers and employees, and it has a strong effect on employee engagement rates.
Employee engagement in the U.S. is, according to Gallup, around 34 percent. That means most people are not satisfied or emotionally invested in their workplace. You can work to fix this. Managers should take time to understand their employees. Workers should be aware of their company’s goals. As a leader, you can make sure your employees trust you and know why you are leading them the way that you do. This will keep all sides engaged.
The scope of mishandled communication.
Transparent communication in a team is something you as a leader should feel personally responsible for. Jordan Wyner from Bonfyre writes, “When C-suite or mid-level leaders choose not to participate, it sends an equally loud message to employees. Whether your team realizes it or not, leadership communication and participation directly affect how employees perceive and value corporate initiatives.”
Related: As a Leader, You Need to Be Both Positive and Aggressive
How to you measure the impact.
The clear benefit here is that both employees and managers get that they are working towards the same goal. Because, in the end, everyone from the CEO to sales intern work towards the same thing — success of the company. This will have a strong impact on your employee engagement and happiness.
A great example of this approach to goals and communication is Google. They have used the Objectives and Key Results (OKR) methodology since before they had 40 people in the company.
OKRs solve one of the main issues between managers and employees. It gives both sides enough information about what is going on. And yes, managers care more about this info. It is their job is to grade and analyze this information. But employees will also have an opportunity to stay in the know — and that will help many of them..
“Objectives and Key Results: The Book” says that there are three main benefits for the system:
Always knowing what people are working on
Having enough information to make decisions
Focusing on the work that matters
These are also the three aspects that make sure you can reduce the gap between your employees, managers and the C-suite. If everyone has enough information about other people’s work, they’ll understand that they are all in this together.
Related: Want to Be a Great Leader? Here’s Why Personal Mastery Is the Single Best Place to Start.
Gaining an edge.
If you are not sure what the best way is to measure your team’s engagement, there are a lot of resources out there. For instance, Erik van Lupen writes about the topic at length in his AIHR blog. And if you are one of the organizations that actually works on the problem, you’re in luck, as you have a clear advantage over those who do not.
While this gap between different levels of an organization isn’t always a big problem, it can turn into one really quickly, especially when people with the wrong attitude are in charge or when the company is growing very quickly.
So remember, if your company doesn’t care enough to understand its employees, you’ll be face with disengagement, slow communication and, worse, people leaving. You can avoid this.