Printbuyers Online

How can I help foster better communication within my team?

I hear so much about improving communication and how important it is to employee satisfaction. Do you have any suggestions how I can implement some changes that will help?

The challenge for print buying owners and managers is to find ways to improve communication. There are many opportunities that we can use, but the key is to learn how to utilize all the different ways effectively. Take each of the communication enablers discussed below and evaluate how well you are utilizing each one. Are you honestly fostering open communication? Does everyone look forward to these occasions as a chance to create the dialogue that is needed for a successful business?

Meetings are the primary forum in which team members conduct business and communicate with one another. It pays to master the basic skills of meeting management. Meetings that produce results don’t just happen by accident. Far too many meetings in organizations are run poorly or just don’t even happen. Many times rather than contributing a positive feeling to an employee, they can actually make employees less efficient, less effective and negative. How many times do you walk away from a meeting, or have heard someone else walk away saying, "Well, that was a waste of time.”?

In today’s business it is imperative that we try to get more done with less, therefore making every meeting count is more important than ever. Try to watch for these meeting derailments (reasons for unproductive meetings):

  • Too many interruptions

  • No real purpose, therefore a time waster

  • No agenda

  • They last too long

  • Certain individuals dominate the proceedings

  • Attendees are unprepared

There are several things that can help you have great meetings. We recommend the following:

  • Be prepared

  • Have an agenda

  • Start and end on time – have a clock

  • Have a note taker

  • Get feedback

There are certain meetings that should begin from the first day you open your doors to do business. There are three that we feel should take place on a regular basis: Daily Production Meetings, Bi-weekly Management Meetings, Monthly All-Staff Meetings.

Management by Walking Around (MBWA)
MBWA is another form of enabling communication. This is not a difficult concept to grasp or implement. It simply means that owners and managers need to get out of their offices and out from behind their desks and go out where the action is to really see what is going on. Walk around and observe. It’s an opportunity to provide guidance where needed and of most importance, provide instant recognition for good work that you observe. Spend a little time getting to know your employees on their turf. Discuss what is going on in their lives and ask them about what they are doing in their job. Find out if they have any suggestions or ideas on ways to make it go easier.

There are employees who would never approach a manager with a problem or concern. But by hanging out in their area, the space they are comfortable in, and just chatting, you have a greater opportunity of having them open up and conversing with you. It is through these events that they learn they can be comfortable sharing their thoughts with you.

If you eliminate communication barriers, and work on developing your communication enablers, you will be more successful in attracting and retaining employees, as well as improving your communication with your customers. Improving employee communication is critical for your business success.

Happy Communicating,

Debra Thompson is President of TG & Associates, a consulting firm specializing in Human Resources for the Graphics Industry. Contact Debra toll free at 877-842-7762 or Visit to sign up for The Communicator, a free monthly email newsletter.

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