As a small business leader, you have a lot on your plate. You may get through your (very long) day and realize you spent so much time dealing with customer service, strategy planning or the constant stream of fires that need to be put out, that you had little to no time to interact with your team. There are so many things that have to get done in the day and only so many hours available. It can be easy to fall into a trap where you are not taking time out of your day for communication with your employees.
Great leaders, though, make communicating with their team a priority. It may be a cliché, but often silence really does speak volumes. An article in Entrprenuer gives some great advice for ensuring that silence doesn’t take over your workplace.
Start more conversations- If you initiate more communication, more people will communicate with you. This can be hard to remember to do among the flurry of other activities on your plate, but it is important. Communication is a cycle, and the more you give, the more you will receive back.
Ask about a teammate’s challenges- Find out what you can about the most challenging projects your team is working on. Check in with them often and show genuine interest. You can take this a step further and ask how you can help.
Giving and getting better context- Communicate with as many details and as much transparency as possible. Ask lots of questions to make sure you understand situations before you respond.
Schedule water-cooler moments- Schedule a couple 10-15 minute breaks each day to get up and walk around the office and make conversations. Actually put it on your calendar, if you need the extra reminder. If you have remote employees, set scheduled times to talk so you don’t lose touch. Going too long without communicating can make catching up awkward.
Showing genuine appreciation for your employees requires that you understand what they actually do to contribute to the company’s goals. If you are not interacting with them on a regular basis, you will not have this understanding. Employees want to have meaningful relationships in the workplace and employees who have regular interactions with the leaders in their organization have higher levels of engagement.
Silence creates uncertainty. Your employees want to see and interact with leaders on a regular basis. This is one of the great advantages of working for a small business. Be careful not to take away one of your competitive advantages by not making communication a priority.