As a leader, it’s your job to guide your direct reports toward larger company goals while keeping them motivated enough to produce excellent work. The best way to achieve this is through consistent communication based on transparency and trust, but you need the right strategies in place for that communication to be effective.
As entrepreneurs and leaders themselves, members of Young Entrepreneurs Council know firsthand how critical it is to build strong relationships with employees. We asked 15 of them to share their best tips for improving communication with direct reports.
Q. What is one tactic or strategy you’ve successfully implemented to improve consistent communication with your direct employees?
#1 Schedule Monthly and Quarterly Meetings with Specific Goals
Monthly company meetings and quarterly career conversations are ways to communicate effectively and consistently with employees. The monthly company meetings are primarily about company vision, direction and performance; the quarterly career conversations are primarily about individual goals, performance, feedback and opportunities for improvement. – Eddie Lou, Shiftgig
#2 Brief Impromptu Chats
I often invite individual staff members or groups into my office for brief conversations rather than email or chat. While it may seem scary to go to the boss’ office, over time this builds rapport and comfort. This will only work for a cooperative manager who listens openly to ideas. An authoritarian manager calling staff into his or her office would instead create dread and resentment. – Diego Orjuela, Cables & Sensors
#3 Invite Them On a Morning Walk
I invite team members to join me for a quick morning walk. It gets us out of the office and allows us to communicate in a more casual setting. I find people tend to open up a bit more this way. – Ben Landis, Fanbase
#4 Communicate Via Slack
Since our team works remotely, we need to rely on technology to communicate with each other. Slack has been our favorite tool for internal communication because it’s faster than email, but still allows you to multitask. – Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster
#5 Encourage Non-Work Discussions in Individual Meetings
I have opened our one-on-one meetings to discuss anything. Typically it is work-focused, but from time to time, we find ourselves talking about life and what is going on in the world. This has been positive in our company, as it has created a level of communication and transparency we didn’t see before. – Colbey Pfund, LFNT Distribution
#6 Hold a Daily Stand-Up Meeting
Our teams do daily stand-ups at 9 a.m. every day. It’s in-person, face-to-face, and each person has about 30 seconds to say what they’re working on. This allows us to quickly react and overcome problems on our most crucial work as early in the day as possible. Everyone is required to attend to make it successful, and they do because it makes their day smoother, too. – Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure
#7 Ask for Meeting Agendas
The best thing I’ve done to improve communication with my direct reports is to make sure they send me a meeting agenda ahead of time, which includes objectives and takeaways. That way everyone stays on topic, knows what success looks like for that meeting and has clear next steps to do after the meeting. – Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile
#8 Have an Open Door Policy
My office is within reach of every employee. When I am not in a meeting, our team members can knock on my door any time for a quick chat. The simple act of being available to chat in-person makes the facilitation of constant communication a lot easier. No one has to feel hesitant about coming up to share their ideas or discuss new opportunities. – Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep
#9 Add an Element of Fun to Build Camaraderie
Most people are shy. I have found that communication is much easier when there is a layer of indirection, such as a game or activity. So I decided to build each teammate their very own Magic deck. Magic: The Gathering is a fantasy trading card game with angels, dragons, elves and goblins. People are frequently challenging each other to “duels.” It’s just plain fun, and has helped build camaraderie. – Kevin Tao, NeuEve
#10 Take Time for Weekly Reflections
We meet at the end of each week as an entire team to share lessons learned during the week. We discuss things that went well and more often than not, things that did not go so well. These lessons are then documented and form the basis for improvements we make to the business and future initiatives that we pursue. – Ross Beyeler, Growth Spark
#11 Let Employees Book Time During Open Office Hours
RealtyShares has scaled from a handful of real estate investing experts to a company of 100. In that time, my direct interaction with employees dropped precipitously. I’ve tried to recapture that early energy by setting aside open office hours for employees of all levels, letting anyone book time to chat about the challenges they face in their role or areas of growth they see for the company. – Nav Athwal, RealtyShares
#12 Take Them to Post-Work Outings
Every month my team and I will go out to grab some food and drinks together after work. From stand-up comedy to live music, getting out of the office to have a laugh and share stories we wouldn’t usually discuss during the workday are great ways to break down walls and build a rapport so everyone is more open with one another. – Stanley Meytin, True Film Production
#13 Develop Genuine Personal Relationships
I make a concerted effort to get to know everyone in my company and to talk to them about what they are interested in, even when they are things I don’t like—the Mets and the Dallas Cowboys are two real-world examples. By developing and maintaining genuine personal relationships with the people who work for me, I am able to keep the lines of communication open naturally. – Adam Mendler, Custom Tobacco
#14 Sync Up at the Beginning and End of the Week
It’s important to sync up with the team at the beginning of the week to make sure you have your goals set for the week and everyone is on the same page. Come Friday, do a follow-up to see where you are at after the week, and then adjust your goals and focus for the upcoming week. This also keeps people accountable. – Andy Karuza, FenSens
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. YEC has also launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
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