Communication is at the heart of every business process. It is a skill that everyone develops at some point in their life. We all start at the same level i.e. level zero. When we are born, we cannot communicate, well at least not verbally. However with time, as we grow we gain the ability to communicate more effectively.
Not all of us are great communicators, though. But there is nothing to be worried about because it is a skill that can be greatly improved with practice (like any skill, I guess). You should encourage your colleagues to work on their communication skills, especially those working in HR – as they are at the center of your business.
If you were to pick one department that communicates most effectively, it probably would be marketing, wouldn’t it? Because this is what marketing is about: effective communication.
Since I am a marketer, I thought it would be a good idea to share a few tips on communicating more effectively that HR pros could use.
What can HR learn from marketing about communicating more effectively?
1. It’s not only what you say, it’s also how you say it
I love playing with words, words excite me! I choose words I use wisely, especially while communicating with customers or prospects. You can deliver the same information in many ways, using different words, which to you might mean the same thing but the person you are talking to will interpret it differently.
Pay attention to who you talk to (their age, their gender, even their nationality), and try to adjust your communication style accordingly just like you do with your customers. Remember, your employees are your most important customers.
2. Timing is everything
I bet you’ve heard this one many times before. In marketing, we pay lots of attention to timing. When I send email campaigns, one of the factors that I take into account is the time at which I send out the email as it greatly impacts campaign’s effectivess.
Some people check their emails in the morning, some in the afternoon, while some don’t like email at all (although email is still the most effective communication channel according to Marketo). Keep that in mind, especially if you want to share really important information.
3. Think about the right communication channel
What is the point in producing good quality content if no one is going to read it, right? The best marketers know that you should spend as much time on content creation as on content distribution.
There are many communication channels you can use: email, social media, face-to-face meetings or a phone. Choose it wisely. On average we receive 121 emails a day, probably most of them won’t even get read, because who on Earth has time to read that many emails?!
I know that I said email is the most effective communication channel but if you want to share something really important then sending it via email might be risky. How about organizing a meeting instead?
Younger employees prefer to communicate via social media. And if it is effective then why not take advantage of it? If you are worried your employees will spend too much time on Facebook, invest in an Enterprise Social Network (check out emplo).
Choose your communication channel based on the type of information you want to share. For a general company announcement choose email, to organize a social meeting pick social media, or an ESN, see my point?
4. Try to get to the point quickly
Time is money, and people’s attention spans are decreasing. Apparently, our attention span has shortened from 12 to 8 seconds. Everyone is busy, so whenever I send out emails or hold a meeting I try to say the most important thing first.
Get rid of any unnecessary information, and ask your employees if they have any questions. Offering a chance to ask questions is the best way to ensure no info is missing and to check whether they actually listened to what you said (it’s a win-win situation) 🙂
5. A little bit of humor goes a long way
It all depends on the situation of course, but in general, I love using humor. It’s the best way to break the ice. It helps you stand out, and makes people like you! I mean don’t crack a joke before announcing something really sad… like a dismissal and don’t overuse it.
Generally, I believe that “A day without laughter is a day wasted” – Charlie Chaplin.
6. Communicate regularly
To communicate more effectively you should try to communicate regularly. This increases familiarity when someone expects to receive an email from you, they are more likely to open it. Decide how often you want to communicate with your employees, once a week, three times a week. You know them best, just keep it regular.
7. Nothing will ever replace face-to-face communication
When I was at university I met two types of lectures: lecturers who were fabulous speakers but sucked at writing, so whenever I had to read one of their books I experienced physical pain. And lecturers who were great at writing books but were so unbelievably boring to listen to (but hey nobody is perfect).
What I am trying to say, is that we all have our preferred ways of communicating. I personally prefer to write, but I recognize the power of face-to-face meetings. You can show so much more when you meet in person, there are no physical barriers. You can better communicate your emotions, address any misunderstandings immediately, check how someone reacted to what you said, and answer any questions.
Difficult conversations and important news should always be communicated face-to-face.
All employees should work on improving their communication skills, irrespective of what they do. I know this list is not exhaustive, but it is a good start to making your communication more effective, at least that’s what I hope.
Do you have any tips on communicating more effectively? Let us know in the comments.