The workplace is a living organism that needs complete cooperation from employees and from the senior team members in order to thrive. It’s important to have a work environment where people can freely communicate with each other.

In a diverse workforce, not all of the great ideas come from the top, but instead are a culmination of different voices, opinions, and levels of seniority. To dismiss the ideas of your employees could be one of the biggest mistakes you ever make for your business.

Barriers to Effective Communication in the Workplace

If you’ve ever conducted a meeting where you openly ask questions of your team, but find that nobody speaks out, or has anything of value to add, don’t be disheartened as we have all been there.

If you’re faced with a situation where your employees don’t communicate with you or with one another, it’s important to find the cause and solution to this quickly. Without proper communication, mistakes can often be made, and workplace morale can be affected by this.

Reasons why your employees aren’t speaking up

In a workplace, it’s important to make sure that everybody is engaged and aware that their voice has an important role to play within the business. Many employees will be seeking development within the business, so in order to move forward it’s important to ensure that they feel heard.

Early in my career, I found that I didn’t have a voice in the business I was working with and instead, my ideas were picked apart and dismissed.

It’s important to consider the psychological impact that this can have on a person. If they’re just seen as a number, without a voice, then it’s likely that their motivation will deplete and their faith in the business will diminish.

So, as a manager, why aren’t your employees communicating with you?

Fear of speaking out

Believe it or not, as a manager it’s common for your employees to be intimidated by you and concerned that their ideas and comments will not be good enough. Second guessing yourself in the business environment is a common ailment that many of us face.

It’s important to create a company culture where there is no bad idea or comment. Always encourage new ideas, even if they aren’t quite right. Having an open mind and a positive outlook as a manager will alleviate a lot of stress that your employees carry.

When employees do speak up, this is a great learning opportunity for the individual, but also for the whole team, so it’s important to offer constructive feedback.

Challenging authority and previous bad experiences

Equally, if there is an issue within the business, or with a senior member of your team, it can be difficult for employees to express their thoughts. It’s important to conduct one-on-one sessions, where your employees can speak to you about their performance, how they are finding the workload and team. It’s important for your employees to have this opportunity, as without it, it’s easy to feel as though you don’t have a voice in a negative situation.

If any employee does not want to speak up, this could also be the result of negligence in a previous workplace. If a supervisor or manager has ever taken their feedback, but has never acted on it, then it may be the case that your employees do not believe that their voice can make a difference.

Your employees simply don’t know the answer

One of the main reasons why your employees do not speak up is that they simply don’t know the answer to your questions. For example, if you are in a staff meeting and ask your employees about a specific client, industry trend or any company-specific question and nobody speaks up, then this could be a big concern.

If you’re employees aren’t knowledgeable about your business and the industry, then this is a great opportunity to conduct training sessions, so that next time you ask a question, everybody should know the answer.

As a manager, I have found that conducting training sessions is also linked to employee satisfaction. The more that you teach your employees and encourage them to speak up, the better their performance will be. This is because your employees will feel valued and that they are progressing within the company. The more valued your employees feel, the more likely they are to feel comfortable enough to speak out.

Our guest author Hayley Powell works closely with the Manchester Solicitors. Her aim is to show business owners how to run a more successful and inclusive workplace. She enjoys reading up on current affairs and can often be found in a bookstore.

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Staff Writer