Human beings are hardwired to seek connection through communication. That’s why good peer-to-peer communication is one of the most vital elements of business success. Without it, even the best business plans will not realize their true potential. All leaders should strive to create good communication and there are many strategies that can help.
1. Prioritize cohesive interactions
In order to foster good peer-to-peer communication, your organization needs to prioritize the creation of a cohesive group environment. People will be more willing to communicate freely when they are part of a team in which they feel valued and respected. Focus on building a group that is united by common goals and believes both in their work and their teammates. A study from TINYpulse found that camaraderie between group members was more motivating that money when it came to employees going the extra mile, leading cohesive groups to be more successful.
2. Emphasize trust and honesty
The importance of trust and honesty in communication cannot be overemphasized. In order for employees to effectively communicate, they must be able to trust that their peers and leaders are being straightforward. In situations where that trust is missing, employees are more likely to consider leaving the company. The basic fact is, interpersonal communication relies on multiple people feeling heard and respected. If employees feel that their communication efforts are wasted or that their leaders are withholding information, group dynamics will suffer.
3. Reward and acknowledge
Most good leaders recognize the importance of rewarding the efforts of their employees and acknowledging their successes. However, the nuances of these types of communications are often not as well known. For instance, some research has found that rewards or feedback are less effective if they come too late after the initial action. As such, it’s important for you to react promptly and communicate well when your employees take effective action. Similarly, you should encourage your team members to acknowledge each other, not just wait for you to communicate about their successes. A quick verbal acknowledgment can go a long way towards encouraging employees to keep up the good work.
4. Be specific and constructive
Providing specific, constructive feedback is the best way to help employees grow. For instance, don’t just tell your employees that they did a good job on a recent presentation. Tell them which elements of the presentation were most well done and why. This style of communication is even more important if you are discussing an area of weakness. An employee that is struggling at work needs specific examples of the problem and clear goals to help them improve. Above all, strive to be solution oriented. There is nothing more discouraging for an employee than learning that they’ve done poorly on something without also learning about potential solutions.
5. Listen up
Effective listening skills are easy to discuss, but difficult to create. Most people, both leaders and employees alike, are guilty of poor listening. One of the biggest issues is listening in order to respond rather than listening in order to understand. People tend to focus more on their own thoughts than on truly understanding and connecting with the person who is speaking. Other problems are issues like interrupting those who are speaking or distractions in the environment. To work on these problems, make an effort to listen more closely to your employees and encourage them to do the same.
Creating effective peer-to-peer communication is a challenging goal, but your organization will benefit immensely if you take on the challenge. Creating group cohesion, building trust, encouraging success, giving specific feedback, and working on listening are all ways you can improve communication.