Take a guess. What percentage of the problems in your workplace involve miscommunication; 25%, 50%, or even 75%? Well, according to the Center for Innovative Teaching and Technology in Tampa, Florida, 80% of problems in the workplace are communication related.
That figure is believable when you pause to examine communication and all of its moving parts: the person sending the message, the context, the content, the delivery method, and the person receiving the message. Breakdown in any one of these communication elements can create major problems for an organization. That is why training to help employees improve communication skills needs to be a top priority.
Here are 10 suggestions for how to apply communication training in the workplace:
- Build interest for the training in advance. Don’t call it “Monthly Employee Training” or “Learn to Communicate Better.” Call it “Opportunity 101” or “Communication Chaos” or something that grabs their attention.
- Choose an engaging presenter. How better to learn effective communication than by watching an effective communicator in action! (How better to bore employees than by watching a boring presenter.) Make sure the presentation is fun and interactive.
- Provide training during regular work hours. A break from the daily routine will be welcomed with enthusiasm. A requirement to stay late for training, not so much. Engagement is just as important as attendance.
- Choose a training schedule and remain consistent. This will “communicate” the importance of the topic and your commitment to it.
- Schedule training sessions in small chunks. The five communication elements can be presented in five consecutive sessions. For example: Session 1 can cover “the person sending the message,” Session 2 can cover “the context,” and so on. Sessions that build on and review previous sessions help employees assimilate their new communication skills into the workplace.
- Select relevant topics. Once you’ve covered the five communication elements, the topic possibilities are limitless. Watch your workplace for an area of need and there’s your next topic! Keep the training specific to your environment rather than just general communication. Once regular training is successfully under way, you may want to invite employees to suggest future topics.
- Add fun and creativity to the training, no matter how serious your business might be. Even engineers and scientists like candy bars on the tables.
- Include active and interactive learning through activities within the training. Communication involves all five senses.
- Incorporate practice into the training. Yes, we can gain communication skills by listening to the presenter, but we can gain greater communication skills by actually practicing the techniques.
- Celebrate the wins! When you see someone demonstrating a communication skill that has been taught at a previous training, recognize them at the next training and reward them with a “pat on the back”, restaurant gift certificate or an afternoon off.
Poor communication in the workplace can bring a multitude of problems to your organization, but skilled communication can bring clarity and strength. Begin your communication training course today and it will make a difference!