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PEOPLE communicate hundreds, perhaps thousands of times every day – although just because it is something that is done almost instinctively, it does not mean that everyone is a good communicator.
Whether working in or operating a small family-owned cattle business or in a large-scale processing facility, communication is at the core of any beef supply chain workplace. It is just as important at work as it is socially and at home.
At work, poor communication among employees can pose serious consequences for business performance and functionality and can lead to unmotivated workers and lapses in productivity.
While it might seem simple and second-nature for most, being a good communicator is a skill that can take effort and time to refine. Getting your message across concisely, actively listening and giving feedback the right way are all communication skills that can require practice.
So how can business owners, managers and employees improve communication at work?
The following tips offer ways to achieve it:
Establish rapport with team members
Establishing trust and rapport with team-members is largely influenced by communication.
A consistent, concise and genuine approach when communicating with team-members will ensure all parties understand what is being said or what is required for a particular task at hand. Leave no room for misinterpretation, which can arise when information is communicated vaguely. Communicating openly with team-members can improve relationships and can create a positive and productive working environment.
When communicating with employees or co-workers, ensure what you are saying aligns with non-verbal communication, including facial expressions and body language. Any discrepancies between the two can cause doubt and confusion among employees and potentially weaken trust that has been established.
Listen with the mind, not just the ears
Being a good communicator is not just about talking; it is also means actively listening as well.
While conversations will occur with employees every day, listening and acknowledging what employees or co-workers say is just as important as talking and the information that is communicated. A sure-fire way to improve listening skills and to show employees or co-workers that you not only understand but are interested in what they are saying is to repeat or briefly summarise what the other person has said.
Give feedback the right way
Providing feedback is essential for learning and development to take place at work.
How can an employee grow and progress their career and skills without knowing if they are doing the right thing or not, or are on the right track? There is a lot to be learned in all aspects of the beef supply chain and while feedback can most commonly occur during an employee’s performance review, providing employees with more regular feedback – both positive and constructive – can keep the lines of communication open. It recognises that as a business owner or manager, you appreciate their efforts.
However, giving feedback should be done with thoughtfulness. When giving constructive feedback to an employee, communicating clearly and with detail ensures what is being said is understood and reduces any misunderstandings.
Promoting two-way communication and providing constructive feedback the right way can also show that as a manager or business owner, you support your staff.
Remember to give positive feedback also, as recognising the efforts of employee’s shows their work is valued and can motivate them to continue to go above and beyond.
Employ a diplomatic approach to overcome negativity
Whether working out in the paddock or in a feedyard or processing facility, chances are, negativity and conflict among team-members will arise at some point.
If any conflict is picked-up with an employee or two, be sure to address the issue quickly and efficiently as allowing the problem to aggravate in the hope it will resolve itself will in most cases make the situation worse.
If conflict occurs between co-workers, business owners or managers can mediate the tension by discussing with the disgruntled employee/s their gripe separately and acknowledging their view. By asking questions, this demonstrates you are engaged by listening to their issue and genuinely wish to resolve the problem quickly and efficiently. Communicating with a diplomatic approach to conflict resolution among team-members can improve communication within the team.
Acknowledge mistakes and learn from them
Whether a junior stockman starting out their career, or a highly-experienced station or feedlot manager, learning new skills and knowledge should continue to occur during all stages in a career and in any position. Throughout one’s career, business owners, managers and employees will work with managers and co-workers with different strengths and weaknesses, meaning people can learn a lot from others actions and knowledge, whether good or bad.
If a mistake has been made, perhaps a manager did not handle conflict between co-workers appropriately or a processing hand may have made a simple error. This is a time not to dwell on the situation, but to identify what went wrong, what should have been done instead, and what approach will be taken in the future. This shows maturity among the team.
While communication is part of everyday life, with the above tips, business owners, managers and workers can improve their communication in the workplace.