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With all the available communication methods, you might think your employees wouldn't require training on interoffice messaging. The truth is that the variety of options often makes it difficult to choose the right path. Establishing a few rules and best practices ensures that employees make the right choices when multiple offices are engaged in dialog. When you have clear protocols, fewer conflicts and misunderstandings occur.
Creating Policies and Procedures
Drafting, writing, revising and publishing policies and procedures formalizes the fundamental interactions that occur at your company. If you don’t take the time to consider these situations, security breaches and privacy concerns could derail your operations. You need to set standards for how you collect, process, transfer and use information between offices, using email, special envelopes for postal mail and other other expedited methods. Take care to protect personnel and customer data and make sure you are in legal compliance. For example, train employees to spot suspicious emails that representing phishing or other fraudulent Internet activity.
Training employees on interoffice communication should include how to use templates for email, newsletters, presentations and other office information. By creating a standard format, you enforce the use of the company logo, fonts and colors. Publishing these on a company intranet site makes them easily accessible to all employees. Training involves describing the purpose of the template, how to customize it and use it.
Conducting Role-Playing Exercises
Ineffective interoffice communication occurs when people don’t express themselves clearly, listen carefully and respect each other completely. By conducting team-building exercises, you provide opportunities for your staff to practice communicating in a non-threatening practice environment. For example, divide a group of employees from different locations into pairs. Ask participants to think about a difficult conversation, such as terminating an employee. One person plays the role of the manager, and the other person plays the role of the employee. After five minutes of delivering the message, ask participants to discuss the conversation and what worked or didn't help the process. We can’t avoid disagreements or negotiations in the workplace. However, by learning how to decipher patterns that don’t contribute to resolution, we can converse without defensiveness, listen for the true meaning in what is said, stay calm despite of accusations and anger, and focus on productive problem-solving.
Rewarding and Recognizing Good Communicators
Once you establish patterns of effective communication, perpetuate the trend by rewarding and recognizing those people who diffuse conflict and collaborate. For example, you can reward team players who use social media responsibly to promote company products by distributing small tokens of your appreciation, such as gift cards, movie tickets or coupons. You can also publicly thank employees for their ability to keep people informed at company meetings, events and ceremonies. For example, provide a certificate of achievement for the best newsletter distributed at your company.
- Mind Tools: Good Manners in the Office
- Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most; Douglas Stone
- Society for Human Resource Management: Processes & Procedures
Tara Duggan is a Project Management Professional (PMP) specializing in knowledge management and instructional design. For over 25 years she has developed quality training materials for a variety of products and services supporting such companies as Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq and HP. Her freelance work is published on various websites.
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