While manufacturing businesses can work on a need-to-know basis, this is often not the most effective road to success. Open communication in the workplace can be especially important in a small manufacturing business, where everyone needs to be on board and committed in order for the business to survive and grow. What are some ways to promote good open communication skills in the workplace?
Commit to the Process
As a manager, you need to decide beforehand whether or not you are really going to commit to open communication. Open communication is not something you can decide on a case-by-case basis. You need to actually implement open communication policies and stick to them.
If you’re unsure about an open communication style, you may want to consult with those who have successfully used open communication in the workplace in the past to let you know what to expect and help you decide the best way for you to proceed.
Have a Transparent System
An open communication policy means just that: it’s open. It’s not about private one-on-one meetings with individual employees. It’s about everyone working together to present ideas, air grievances and find the best ways to work together and be productive. Holding open meetings where you make your expectations clear to everyone and everyone has the opportunity to make their expectations clear to you is the foundation of an open work environment.
Have a Fair, Safe and Open Grievance System
Open communication does not necessarily mean every grievance has to be aired publicly. Employees should know that if there are grievances that are not appropriate for public airing, or they are not comfortable discussing them in a completely open environment, they can come to their manager with them.
Managers should be clear that employees coming to them with concerns is welcomed as a positive step and not viewed as “complaining” or “griping.” It should be clear there are not negative consequences for airing grievances and that everyone involved with the concern will be brought in together to come up with a resolution that will be satisfactory to all parties.
Be Aware That You Have a Diverse Workplace
Many of today’s most effective workplaces are multi-generational and multi-cultural. This means that certain types of slang, jargon or ways of communicating may not be familiar to all members of your organization. Try to use ways of communication that are more universal, and if you have foreign workers or those from a very different culture, it can be a good idea to pair them with mentors who can help familiarize them with your communication techniques.
Open communication is relatively new to some work environments and can take some trial and error, reworking and tweaking to get just right. However, it can also make your employees feel more engaged, allow you to benefit from a variety of different perspectives and generally benefit from a more aware and interconnected workplace.