- Communicate clearly with your employees to get tasks done;
- Communicate clearly within your team to keep your business running smoothly;
- Offer your customers good customer service and clear messages;
- Deal promptly and clearly with suppliers, contractors and other businesses.
- Misunderstandings of tone and meaning that can cause confusion;
- Tasks done incorrectly due to unclear instructions;
- Duplication of work due to lack of communication;
- Resentments and problems that could easily be resolved.
Encourage Culture of Open Communication
A culture of open and respectful communication will do a great deal for your small business in terms of communication. As a small business owner or manager, that starts with you. Take time to talk with your team, both casually and about professional issues. Have an open door policy at least some of the time, and make sure your employees can approach you.
Encourage your staff to communicate with each other and keep information that is relevant to everybody out in the open. A culture or respect and openness will boost morale and help keep communications clear, cutting down on misunderstandings or simply lost information.
Practice Strong Listening Skills
Talking is only one part of communication; listening is the other part. Whether in-house or when talking to customers over the phone or in person, encourage your staff to learn and practice good listening skills—and that includes you!
Good listening skills emphasize listening without interruption or judgment, paraphrasing what the other person has said to ensure you have understood properly, and taking the other person’s concerns seriously. From taking instructions for a task to listening to customer feedback, strong listening skills are a vital communication tool for your small business. You might even consider running a short half-day course for staff—the investment will be worth it.
Emphasize Clarity and Thoughtfulness
Words have power, and learning to use them effectively is a must for good small business communications. Whether communicating with colleagues or customers, by email or in person, encourage your team to think carefully about the words they choose, and to always aim for clarity.
For example, if you email a colleague to request some information, be clear what exactly you want and when you need it by, rather than “as soon as you can” or “whatever you can find.” Tone can be hard to read over text, so encourage your staff to double check any written communications, especially those going public such as Tweets or Facebook updates.
Create and Maintain Good Communication Channels
Mastering the art of good communication is important, but without good channels to communicate over, your business will be like a car without the fuel to drive it. As pointed out in the article “Is Your Company Communicating Like It Should?” an easy-to-use phone system is a must, and add to that a user friendly email system and clear guidelines on who should be on social media on your behalf, and when. Building a user-friendly infrastructure for your communications will make getting in touch easier and more pleasant for both staff and customers, complementing your culture of good communication.
Strong communication is vital for any small business. By embracing clarity and thoughtfulness you’ll soon see a difference in culture and productivity when you make communication an important tool for your business.
Author: Tristan Anwyn writes on a wide variety of topics, including social media, SEO, communication and listening skills.