In all areas of HR, how we communicate with each other can be key. This may seem obvious but it is remarkable how many leaders and organisations believe they communicate well but in actual fact, they do not effectively communicate their key messages, expectations, objectives or plans. In addition, many employees either do not feel they are properly communicated with or are able to communicate their hopes, plans or thoughts and therefore feel left out of organisational plans and activities.
Right at the outset of the employment relationship, there is a mutual selection process taking place. Recruitment is not one-sided although perhaps for job seekers, who are awaiting calls and letters, it can often feel that it is. Companies advertise for roles stating what they expect, employees apply based upon this and accept offers based upon what is stated in writing but also based upon what they have picked up in any additional communication messages about opportunities to develop, salary advancement and culture. However, often cracks emerge when it appears that one of the parties has over-sold themselves. What is the real point in this though as it will never lead to a good outcome; just a lot of misunderstandings? As an employer, it is better to outline the main responsibilities of the job in a good job description, be honest about what the role is and what it is not and whether real opportunities for advancement or salary enhancements are likely to exist. It is understandable that employers wish to sell their organisation and be seen as an attractive place to work but are we perhaps guilty of embellishing a little? As a potential recruit, it is also a difficult balance between selling yourself enough for a role and not over-selling yourself. If the employee over-sells, it is likely to lead to management frustration and protracted performance management processes and if the employer does, then it is the employee who will be disgruntled and who will ultimately vote with their feet.
Once the employment relationship has begun there are also endless opportunities to communicate well (or not): performance appraisals, reorganisations, business planning, relocations, salary reviews, promotions and training and development activities to name just a few.
However, it is not just the big HR or employee relations issues where communication successes or limitations can be apparent; even normal day to day conversations which relate to the future of the business can be key. Are you letting people know about your future plans? Do they know which roles are being recruited for? Do they know which clients or accounts you are aiming for? Do they know not just where the overall business is headed but what direction their immediate team is headed in and what their place is in it? Furthermore, are you communicating well with everyone, whether remote, on the road or right next to you in the office? Critically, are you listening not just talking? Is there an opportunity for employees to raise their ideas or perhaps even provide come alternative viewpoints? Are any ideas which emerge managed well so employees remain engaged?
Finally, it is not a perfect science but we can all strive to improve our communication skills within the workplace. Not everyone will like the message that you are delivering but if it is one which is carried out well, your ability to take employees with you is more likely to be achieved.