Improving communication in a business Published December 2, 2015 | By Achim Neumann, President Often, there is miscommunication in businesses between employees and managers/business owners that leads to undesired outcomes. There are many factors that can lead to crossed wires, but here are some valuable tips to help get things crystal clear for all parties that will help to ensure efficiency, decrease stress and make sure things get done the way they’re supposed to be. 1) Actively listen to what employees are saying When it comes to communication, being understood is a two way street. If respect is shown to employees by managers/owners, that respect will be reciprocated by employees. Devote undivided attention to what employees are saying instead of multi-tasking or “half listening”. Using what they say, follow up with some clarifying questions. This will make things clearer, and it will go a long way towards earning the trust of team members by showing true engagement in whatever is being discussed. 2) Remain authentic in all business dealings Another way to build trust through communication is to remain authentic, consistent, and clear with regards to whatever is said. Avoid double speak and ambiguous terms – the confusion that results can lead to honest mistakes being made by employees. Be mindful of body language, as certain actions (like crossing arms, a sign of impatience) can betray otherwise noble motives (actively listening to a colleague’s proposal to improve Q1 2016 sales for example). 3) Be generous with ideas, but don’t try to solve all a department’s problems As the head of a company, or as a manager for a department within it, it is natural to want to step in and fix things at times. However, the employees that have been carefully hired in various capacities are more likely to have the in-depth knowledge required to drive game-changing innovation than a manager/owner who can often be distant from day-to-day activities/logistics. Provide ideas to team members if they get stuck, but allow them to do the work necessary to solve the issue at hand. Help them when needed, but let them use their brain and take a little extra time if needed to accomplish the task. Doing so will build a sense of accomplishment and foster a rapport within a team or department. In the end, this will free up time to focus attention on more important matters. 4) Ask effective questions until the information desired is delivered Avoid loaded queries that only create drama, and instead employ a rigor of logic to drill down to the core of the problem at hand. Open-ended questions are best for obtaining feedback on matters like the status of a marketing campaign, while closed-ended questions (which only require a yes or no answer) are best for extracting discrete bits of information.