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Guest blog from Terkel.io
From organizing external events to creating additional feedback loops, here are 16 answers to the question, “As a company grows, communication must remain efficient. Can you share some helpful tips for improving communication in your growing company?”
Communication does not always happen organically, as people who are separated by their responsibilities within a growing company may not interact regularly. Planning outside events can help break those barriers and improve communication. There is a formality in the workplace that is not always conducive to communication, as separation in responsibilities and authority can discourage dialogue.
Therefore, organizing outside events that are away from the physical workspace can lessen tension, bring down physical barriers that exist in a business, and get team members to see each other as well-rounded people, not just fellow employees. Doing so relaxes the environment for communication. By organizing outside events away from the business, you can bring in the human element that encourages communication that will extend into your growing company.
David Derigiotis, CIO, Embroker
It’s challenging to ensure that communication stays efficient when your employee headcount is growing. More people means more emails or Slack messages; more people means more knowledge being shared, but potentially not being captured for the good of everyone, if the system isn’t set up optimally.
When onboarding new employees, it is important to run them through all your comms outputs and best practices. What information should they expect to learn/find from which outputs: all-hands meetings, newsletters, intranet, manager cascades? If they have a codified sense of where comms should be, they can contribute and keep things running smoothly rather than posting questions or information in a forum that will get missed by others.
Scott Hitchins, CMO, Interact Software
As your company grows, it’s important to scale your communication effectively. Establish clear communication channels and protocols that everyone in the organization can access and use. Use tools such as videoconferencing, instant messaging, and email to ensure that all employees can stay connected and up to date.
Regularly review and update communication policies and procedures to ensure they remain effective and efficient. Encourage open dialogue and feedback from all employees to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard. Finally, ensure that everyone is aware of the company’s goals and objectives so they can work together to achieve them.
Carly Hill, Operations Manager, VirtualHolidayParty.com
Many people are conditioned to use email as their primary method of communication. As your organization grows, messages can get lost easily when inboxes fill up. For this reason, it might be a good idea to institute a ticketing system that captures important emails.
You can integrate a platform like Zendesk and then create a support email address that automatically generates a new ticket when it receives messages. From there, institute a policy of requiring people to CC the support address whenever important messages go out that need to be tracked.
Have a person or team own the flow of messages in the ticketing system. When they confirm that people have answered all questions or submitted all deliverables (i.e. email attachments), they can close out the tickets. When items are still pending, they can follow up with the individuals who owe responses to move things along. I’ve had outstanding success with this in an agency environment, tracking emails with multiple clients.
Dennis Consorte, Digital Marketing & Leadership Consultant, Snackable Solutions
Have daily “stand-up meetings” to get an overview of what everyone is working on and capture existing obstacles at work. These stand-ups are time-boxed and informal, and five minutes should be enough for everyone in a growing team to share a point or two about their individual projects.
In this short time, everyone should be able to get enough context to remain informed and coherent with what the rest are working on. For efficient communication, brief yet impactful stand-up meetings are one way to go.
Max Wesman, Chief Operating Officer, GoodHire
Not relying only on meetings as a conveyance for new information is one best practice. Meetings are excellent for general quick briefings that apply to many employees, not so much for one-on-one Q&A sessions.
With a growing company especially, umbrella meetings like that can leave many questions unanswered. Posting new information in a universal forum, like Groups or Slack, lets everyone see it sooner, and gets the dialogue going that much quicker.
Adam Bem, Co-Founder & COO, Victoria VR
I like to see a company as a movie, with the staff as the cast, leadership as producers, and company vision as the plot. The effectiveness and fluidity of communication in a company depends on how clear each employee is about their role and how such roles blend into the overall plot (company’s vision and objective).
Communication mishaps are inevitable when employees are not adequately informed about the narrative (or plot) and where their character comes into the story. Therefore, leaders must publish the plot, informing employees about the character each plays.
Clearly defining each character espouses what contributions (dialogues and actions) are expected from such a character at specific intervals, and each character’s script is often reasonably detailed in the job description of their positions and the employee code of conduct
This way, when an employee says or does things not expected of their character, producers (herein, the leaders) can flag and punish such violations.
Lotus Felix, CEO, Lotus Brains Studio
One thing that I can’t emphasize enough is the importance of over-communicating. In a remote or hybrid work setup, organizations need to be extra vigilant not to create a communication gap.
By over-communicating, you make sure that no critical information is lost. That being said, over-communication doesn’t mean sharing confidential information but effectively and repeatedly conveying the information to employees.
Every organization must have a communication plan in place, which essentially outlines diverse ways of communicating vital information across the teams. To sum up, just sharing the information in a Slack channel won’t be enough—send emails, personal messages, or set up online or offline meetings if required. Because over-communication is better than under-communication.
Adit Jain, CEO & Co-Founder, Leena AI
Being clear about company values and adhering to them is crucial for improving communication in a growing company because it provides a clear, common ground and a shared understanding and language.
Moreover, it creates trust. When a company consistently acts in alignment with its values, it earns the trust of its employees, partners, and customers, which is essential for effective communication, as it allows for open and honest dialogue.
It also establishes a culture of accountability. When company values are clearly communicated and upheld, it sets an expectation of accountability for all employees. This promotes efficient communication, as individuals are less likely to be evasive and dismissive in their conversation style.
Finally, it enhances alignment. Adhering to company values ensures all employees are working towards the same goals, which ensures that they share common ground and aren’t forced to verbalize all the minutest details.
Piotrek Sosnowski, Chief People & Culture Officer, HiJunior
As a part of the senior management of my company, I can attest that the best way to ensure consistent and effective communication is for the senior management team to take the first step. They should make it part of their role to keep all employees in touch with one another by, for example, hosting regular team meetings, having open office hours, and voicing messages out loud.
The senior team should also lead by example and practice real listening, assert obvious lines of responsibility, and show genuine interest in what their employees are bringing to the table. This would pave the way for better vertical integration, enhanced collaboration across teams without silos, an open tone of constructive feedback, and eventually more efficient communication within your growing company.
Derek Bruce, Sr. Director, Skills Training Group
As a growing company, it is essential to perfect leaders’ communication styles and practices in order to improve communication. Leaders serve as the primary models for communication, and their communication practices will be the foundation for how communication is conducted throughout the organization.
Managers are disseminators of the communication practices, and their ability to effectively communicate is key to ensuring that all employees understand and implement the communication practices.
As the organization expands, it is important to ensure that leaders are equipped with the necessary skills and resources to effectively communicate with their teams and other stakeholders. With effective communication practices in place, the organization will be better prepared to face the challenges and opportunities that come with growth.
Grace He, People & Culture Director, teambuilding.com
Relying on meetings for communication is painful for 20 employees. It’s downright impossible as you grow beyond that. Your team will spend more time updating each other in meetings than actually doing the work.
I’ve seen this happen repeatedly at companies I’ve worked at in the past. In my current company, we use written (via Slack) and video (via Loom) updates to share information with each other, giving team members a choice over which updates apply to their job. This has freed up our calendars without becoming disconnected.
Julian Schaaf, Head of Marketing, Gomada
When a company is small and numbers only several dozen employees, maintaining communication is relatively straightforward and rarely requires any additional effort. However, rapid growth can put communication on the back burner and lead to breakdowns in operation.
One way to prevent this is by organizing all-hands meetings each month, where employees can get direct and undiluted information from the source. Monthly meetings are so effective at keeping communication alive because they give everyone a chance to hear more about different people within the company and learn who to contact with future queries. These group meetings bring separate teams and departments together and help people get to know each other.
Goran Luledzija, CEO, Localizely
Build and regularly update a virtual employee knowledge base. Employees should be able to access instructions or informational documents like files and spreadsheets whenever needed, so give them a 24/7 space to easily access these answers.
While you can’t predict every question an employee has or replace meetings with a team FAQ database, you can help reduce the need for some of these more repetitive communications, so they have many of these answers available instantly at their fingertips. Regularly ask employees to submit questions they think will help themselves or their teammates and update the data to keep up with developing standards and strategies.
Tory Gray, CEO & Founder, The Gray Dot Company
As a Gen Z in HR, I am a huge proponent of creating an open-door policy. Allowing employees to come and go freely with their questions and concerns can help keep communication flowing. As someone who values transparency and understanding, it was exciting for me to implement this simple policy that could have such a great impact on our business.
Other members of staff experienced the benefits of being able to talk openly to their supervisors and management, they developed better relationships with those around them and even saw increases in workplace productivity. As the person responsible for developing better means of communication throughout our team, I am always looking for new tips—implementing an open-door policy will always be my first choice!
Haya Subhan, Manager & HR Specialist, Sheffield First Aid Courses
The trap that lots of growing companies fall into is only thinking about the “broadcast” element of communications. Of course, this is important—you want to keep everyone engaged in a shared story about the journey you’re going on as a business and you need to promote shared situational awareness of the challenges and opportunities you want your people to focus on.
But, the communication piece that people often miss is the importance of feedback loops—how are your leaders staying connected to what your people are thinking and feeling as you grow?
When you’re small, your leaders can stay in touch with your people through their normal, day-to-day conversations and interactions. But when you grow past 100-150, these informal relationships struggle to keep pace with the social complexity in your company.
So my tip to growing companies is to make sure you build effective feedback loops, so ideas, challenges, and learning are surfaced and communicated across your company.
Matt Grimshaw, Founder & CEO, Youda
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