Entrepreneurs and employees should practice active listening in their interactions with customers and co-workers. For example, a supervisor who manages 10 employees will have a limited amount of time to give directions to each employee. If employees don't attend to their supervisor using active listening, they will have more questions at the end and waste the supervisor's time, repeating what has already been explained. Employees must be clear in what they say to the public, such as in handling customer complaints. They must listen to each customer's problem and state in plain terms what they can do, if anything, to solve the problem. For both scenarios, active listening requires attending to clues that a person gives, both in spoken words and in nonverbal expressions, before sending a return message. After a message has been received, it is often necessary to restate what was heard to clarify the message.
Business owners want to build a team of employees who understand how to communicate effectively in groups. For example, employers want people to clearly express their ideas in group meetings using words, nonverbal expressions and gestures. They also must express their emotions and clarify what they perceive as the thoughts and feelings of others on a team. Being aware of your team's climate is also important. Look for tensions that crop up among particular colleagues and address them professionally before they produce bigger conflicts. Sometimes, employees might also take the lead in solving problems faced by a group and help the group work effectively towards a solution.
It's best to examine how employees are communicating efficiently to maximize the flow of work and individual productivity. This includes being a good model of efficient communications. For example, employees may spend a lot of time typing communications that will be circulated around the organization. Michael Schrage of the Harvard Business Review Blog Network suggests that you create an email correctly the first time with the assumption that it will be forwarded to others in the workplace. In this way, you won't waste time returning to the original email and editing it when you're ready to share it. Share this tip with employees. They need to edit their emails to avoid confusing other employees, which just decreases productivity.
Technology vs. Human Interaction
For effective and efficient communication, you need to be sure that you are using the most appropriate communication format. You could spend too much time sharing instructions with workers by typing emails on a computer or mobile device. Sometimes, it's more efficient to walk around the office and communicate your expectations quickly. You can also use the telephone, the interoffice memo, video chat or a virtual work space to communicate with employees. If there is a chance that you will be misunderstood using technology, use face-to-face communication with employees, especially for discipline and resolving conflicts between workers.