Effective online communication can help you retain employees that don’t make you cringe
By Eve Mayer, Microsoft Guest Author
Some employees make you cringe. Some make you nervous when they take a breath in preparation to open their mouth and say something. You never know what is about to come out. It’s edgy, but not the good kind of edgy that keeps you riveted. It’s the edgy that forgets the edge exists and often leaps past it. Their communication skills are just slightly askew either in person, online, or in some rare and amazing instances, both.
This doesn’t make them a bad employee. In fact, they are often valuable team members who contribute in a lot of areas. They just need additional guidance on how to communicate effectively and appropriately.
I’d like to suggest that even though you are an incredibly great leader, sometimes you should take the easy way out. That means setting up clear expectations, in writing, for online communications and following a process for coaching team members when they step past the boundaries of appropriate professional communication.
My Top 4 Tips for Effective Online Communication to Help you Retain Employees Who Don’t Make you Cringe
1) Post your company policies in a searchable and visually digestible fashion. No one is going to read the 10-page HR document covering workplace behavior. Employees should be able to find PTO policies, important numbers, company directory, and documented processes quickly. When an employee does something that needs to be addressed, start with a short email letting them know and provide them with a link to the relevant piece of company policy. Ask if they have any questions or if they need clarifications. Often educating them and letting them know that you are aware of the situation solves the problem.
2) Create transparent workflow systems online. Ever heard one department complain about another? Often this is because there is little communication between departments about priorities and the work being done. To build respect between departments establish simple, online workflow tracking that shows the tasks being worked on, the priority of those tasks, and due dates. Make these systems visible across the whole company. Hold cross department meetings weekly or monthly so employees begin to understand the work being done outside of their own group.
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3) Process documentation should use the name of the position responsible for a task, not the name of the employee. People come and go from companies or they get promoted into new positions. Documenting policies and processes clearly is essential for new people in new roles to get up to speed quickly.
4) Create guidelines for email. We all have an employee who copies everyone on every email when it isn’t necessary or habitually hits “Reply All” when all that’s needed is a response to the initial author. Set up expectations about when people should email or when they should use phone, chat, or a meeting. Set limits for how long emails should be. For example, if the email is longer than three paragraphs, then it shouldn’t be an email. Hold silly contests where the person who sends the least emails in a week but still gets their work done wins a prize.
Communicating in person is great but there are times when effective online communication can be the right pick for efficient chatter that keeps the very best employees happy.
Eve Mayer is a professional speaker, Fractional Chief Marketing Officer, company culture consultant and writer. Eve has been recognized by Forbes as 5th most Influential Woman in Social Media, CNN as one of the 8 Women to follow on Twitter (@LinkedInQueen) and Social Media Marketing Magazine named Eve the number 1 CMO on Twitter.