Good communication is the backbone of any healthy relationship. And in an era where work keeps moving more toward remote teams, first-rate communication tools are essential.
Far too many employees feel left out of the company news pipeline. Perhaps you’re one of them. You learn things late and always seem to be out of the loop. Not only does it seem alienating, but it makes you consider tossing your hat into the Great Resignation ring. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Communication in the workplace is harder than it looks
If you’re a front-line worker, you may experience the phenomenon of poor communication more often than any other type of workers. As Gys Kappers, cofounder and CEO of Wyzetalk, wrote in an article for Training Industry, employees—particularly non-desk ones without business emails—frequently get the afterthought treatment.
“Sometimes, real-time communication can be the difference between life and death,” Kappers wrote. “For example, in the event of a food recall, time is of the essence. Manufacturers need to be able to communicate with plants, retailers and the public in real time to protect lives, preserve their brand reputations and retain resources.”
In other words, you can’t just bury your head in the sand and wait for someone else to make the first move. But what can you reasonably do when you’re fairly low on the corporate food chain? The answer is simple: Become the communication advocate you and your co-workers deserve. Taking on an initiative that extends beyond your specific role will help your organization and expand your personal brand.
A foolproof road map to asking for tools and tech
This doesn’t mean you should just ask your boss to communicate better and call it a day. On the contrary, seize this moment to dust off your sales hat and pitch some communication tool ideas like a pro. You can start by following a straightforward road map.
1. Identify your team’s biggest communication roadblocks.
The first step to solve any problem is to define and understand what the problem is. Think about the communication missteps and hiccups you’re regularly experiencing. Write them down as you brainstorm. Tell the story, with specifics, in a way that clarifies exactly why this problem matters.
For example, maybe you feel like you don’t have easy ways to connect with people within your organization. This leaves you at a disadvantage when it comes to getting and sharing information and suggestions. Knowing your obstacles gives you something concrete to focus on in terms of solutions.
2. Research and test tools that might help.
Once you’ve named one or two communication barriers, look for tools that could help you overcome them. Perhaps it’s technology that works on your device, like an app. See if you can download and test drive it for free. Or perhaps it’s an overlooked feature on the software your company is already using.
Your job is not to implement these tools yet but to evaluate them. Is the user interface designed to be intuitive and straightforward? Remember that people tend to lose interest in systems and products that don’t seem valuable. Ideally, you’ll want to pick one or two potential solutions that might be the answer.
3. Perform a soft launch with teammates.
Tools in hand, it’s time to go on the open road, so to speak. Bring some of your colleagues with you into experimentation mode. Concentrate on seeing if the tool really improves your communication process.
Keep track of what happens. Crowdsource your findings. What did you and your team members like best about the tools? Which tools seemed most appropriate for keeping everyone up to date? Which would be cost-effective?
4. Plan your ask.
Once you have your data, get everything organized. Set up a meeting with your manager to sell the concept of your preferred communication tool. Imagine this as an opportunity to showcase your critical thinking skills and get a little professional development training.
Your presentation doesn’t have to be an hour-long PowerPoint endeavor. Prepare something that is short and sweet. Your plan should start with a description of the communication problem you’re having, followed by an explanation of the solution you’re proposing and report your research findings. Use stories to make it real. Your job isn’t to beg or cajole. It’s to persuade decision makers that your idea is feasible and highly beneficial. Take the time to polish your pitch.
5. Showcase your presentation skills.
Now comes the part you might find a tad intimidating: Actually asking for what you need. Practice beforehand so you feel comfortable with the conversation. Then, go into your in-person or virtual meeting with confidence.
Your manager might sit back and listen or ask lots of questions. Either way, stick to the subject at hand. Make it clear that you and your team are committed to the success of the company, and that this depends on letting you be more involved in what happens throughout the company. Remain positive and be sure to ask how you can follow up. Oh, and do follow up. That’s a sales technique that’s essential to move any process along.
Today, communication doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether you work in the same building as everyone else or across the ocean, you can leverage the most up-to-date technologies and tools to stay informed. Just don’t expect your boss to do all the busywork when it comes to figuring out which communication tools will serve your group. Instead, look at this as an opportunity for you to move out of your comfort zone in a way that could have positive repercussions for your whole team. It all starts with your willingness to … communicate.
William Arruda is a keynote speaker, co-founder of CareerBlast.TV and creator of the 360Reach personal brand feedback survey which allows you to get the real scoop about your professional reputation from those who know you.