While small business owners definitely face a lot of challenges on a daily basis, one that can have a major impact on whether the business is able to thrive or not is communication. Between vendors, employees and customers, great communication can be a big hurdle. After all, great writing skills and perfect oration are hardly a prerequisite for the dream of owning your own company.
Following are five communication issues that are common among small business owners as well as the communication solutions that can help to ease this daily stressor.
1. Missing Communication
A lack of communication is always a problem. When employees or vendors are simply not communicating, small issues can quickly snowball into insurmountable stresses simply because no one knows what is going on.
More communication seems like the simple answer here, but a better way to frame it is setting expectations. Whether that means scheduling check ins with remote employees or freelancers or asking for reports from vendors it is important that everyone is on the same page about how often they are expected to communicate progress to you.
On the other end of the spectrum is micromanagement. When you hover over employees and try to manage every aspect of their job, you are not only fostering an adversarial and distrustful environment, you are wasting everyone’s time.
There are a few ways to solve micromanagement – or overcommunication – issues. In the long run, it is essential to hire people that you trust and allow them to do the job you hired them for. Sometimes, communication can feel like micromanagement when it isn’t and this is an easier fix. For example, when you’re constantly calling an employee or scheduling meetings, they feel compelled to stop whatever they’re doing to address your needs and it can weigh them down and cost everyone efficiency. If what you have to say can be communicated in an email instead, the employee has the option to respond at their convenience. This simple assessment of the best technology for certain communications can have a big impact on relationships and overall communication efficacy.
3. No Down Time
Overcommunication isn’t limited to micromanagement. A chief complaint among many employees and managers/business owners is that they feel as if they are always connected. The advent of the smartphone has made it impossible for people to unplug. In fact, only 25% of people with paid vacation time take all of it during the year.
As a communication solution for this particular issue, be sure to encourage employees to take down time. This can range from actual vacations to simply turning off email notifications or phone calls for the time when they are not on the job. This can lead to overall happier and more productive employees in the long run.
4. Maximizing Meeting Efficacy
Scheduling regular meetings is an essential part of managing any team, no matter what the size. But inefficient meetings can lead to to a lot of frustration for those that have to attend them – not to mention the damage they can cause to overall productivity. One study suggests that employees can waste an average of 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings.
Setting expectations can be a great communication solution for this particular issue as well. Have a meeting agenda and stick to it. There are plenty of business advice books and programs that can give you a good framework for scheduling meetings. Find one that works for you and make sure no one is dreading your next staff meeting.
5. Scattered Employee Base
Utilizing freelancers and offsite employees can be a great option for small business owners who need to cut down on overhead. You don’t have to find office space or even computers for these employees. But a scattered base of employees can create some difficult communication problems for you as well as for your customers.
A unified communications solution can be a way to make sure that remote employees feel part of the team and are able to contribute seamlessly. UC options like VoIP can make it possible for people to answer customer calls from home as if they were in the office with access to all the same features and reliability.
No matter what the size of your business, when you are able to communicate effectively with your team and your customers, you will be able to more effectively accomplish your bigger business goals.