Being a good communicator requires being a good listener.

In order to be the best, you have to build a team of the best people possible. Five phases will make this happen: hiring, training, communicating, motivating and compensating.

Communicating with employees is the most difficult aspect of most organizations. You have to encourage, support and embrace communication with, to and from employees who have the greatest knowledge of what is really happening in the business. When you take the time to listen to employees you will learn more than you ever imagined. Your simple act of listening and communicating back to your employees will earn you more highly motivated employees - as well as employees who will begin to think more creatively and more strategically.

Managers who are skilled communicators with employees, vendors and customers will act as positive role models for their employees.

Effective communication is information that has been disseminated and understood by the targeted audience.

For communication to have an impact or to be successful there must be a complete cycle. The sender transmits the information to a receiver. The receiver should then confirm the acceptance and comprehension of the message. The only one capable of verifying the comprehension is the sender. That's you!

Misunderstood communication can be one of the largest problems facing businesses today. There are lots of messages being sent, but not all of it is received and understood. Without a complete communication cycle we don't have dialogue - we have a monologue. Dialogue ensures that we are interacting with others to reach a shared meaning.

Probably the best tool available to ensure good communications is listening. Being a good listener is a skill that must be learned and practiced. Too many folks believe that talking and listening is a 50-50 proposition. Not so - really good communication is two-third's listening and one-third talking. A long time ago a friend of mine pointed out that I had two ears and one mouth - and to be a good communicator I should use them in that proportion!

It's a proven fact that the quality of communication will increase the incidence of positive interaction between all your employees. There are some very simple steps that every member of every company can do to ensure positive, healthy communication interactions:

  • Help others to be right - not wrong
  • Whenever possible - have fun
  • Behave with enthusiasm
  • Figure out ways to make new ideas work - not reasons why they won't
  • Act with initiative
  • Be bold - don't be afraid to take chances
  • Help others become successful
  • Don't contribute to gossip
  • If you don't have anything positive to say - don't say anything

In our showroom businesses we have endless means of helping us be great communicators. Here are some ideas for you to consider:

  • Employee Handbook. This tells the history of the business and spells out the mission statement. It also lists many of the policies and procedures of the company, such as vacation programs, holidays, benefits plan, dress, smoking, drug policies. An employee handbook establishes fair, consistent, yet firm guidelines for all employees.
  • Job Descriptions. Formal, written job descriptions will communicate to the employees exactly what is expected of them.
  • Job Performance Evaluations. Every employee wants (and deserves) to know how he or she is doing. By "stroking" the good areas and pointing out the areas that can stand improvement you increase morale, strengthen motivation and increase productivity. When done properly encouraging a two-way dialogue, the manager will learn a lot about the employee and what's going on within the company.
  • Procedures Manual. This is a written documentation of everything that takes place in running the business. It spells out how the store is opened in the morning, from turning on the lights and making coffee to how every piece of paper is completed and how it flows. It explains how to meet and greet customers, how to do quotes and write orders. It helps everyone do everything in the same way.
  • Weekly Staff Meetings. These are a great way of communicating. There should always be an agenda - and everyone should be encouraged to submit suggested agenda items. These meetings can be used for product training, selling skills training and general dissemination of information.
  • One-On-One Conversation. This needs to be done as the manager or employee deems necessary.
  • State-Of-The-Company Meetings. Either quarterly or biannually the "boss" brings everyone up-to-date on how the company is doing, where it's going and what the short-term and long-term goals are. It's an opportunity for management to ask for input and ideas on how to improve the operation.
  • Verbal Vs. Written Communication. There's a correct time and place for each of these. Learning when to use which one is important. Written communications are more formal. They may spell out a specific task to be done and a time frame to complete it. They may act as more formal disciplinary memos - or just the opposite - a formal thank you for a job well done!