5 Effective Ways to Improve Communication at the Startup
Startups can get away with little. Large companies can weather a storm of complaints, while smaller companies can get swept away. Entrepreneurs have to keep an eye on every cent and dollar, while established businesses are more concerned with the tens of thousands. Large companies can survive lumbering communication lines and delayed messages. Startups on the other hand, will often fold if it fails to communicate internally.
One of the greatest advantages a startup holds over larger companies is its speed and flexibility. Corporations have a ton of established and necessary rules that protect its systems and its future. Startups don’t need as many, simply because there isn’t a lot to monitor or handle. While inefficient, you can oversee the entirety of the startup. When you have poor internal communication, you give up this advantage and more. Here are a few things to keep in mind to create and maintain a high-level of office communication.
- Be an Example | Many offices embrace the cubicle farm culture. People go to their space, work, and leave. It’s entirely possible to go through an entire workday without seeing or talking to someone else in a meaningful or communicative manner. It’s not just people at the floor either – managers around the world can hole up in their office, doors closed, unavailable for questions. When the door opens, it’s to bark orders, not listen. Don’t let that be your entrepreneurial life. A closed door is the death of communication. Entire Disney songs have been based on closed doors. Your company culture and thus your team’s behavior is set by you and your actions. If you don’t communicate, it’s likely no one will. Keep your door open. Let people walk in and ask questions. It may be prone to abuse, but those incidents are often few and far in between, and can easily be handled with feedback and by laying down the ground rules. It might feel uncomfortable, but if that’s the most discomfort you’ll experience as an entrepreneur you should feel lucky.
- Have a Company Blog | There’s a lot of benefits to face-to-face meetings. You can read other people better and make sure your intonation is on point so there are as few misunderstandings as possible. It can also lead to networking opportunities. When a VoiP meeting ends, you just drop the line and go on with your day. When a face-to-face meeting ends, you can go out for a few beers and get to know everyone. It does come with its downsides. Some people simply aren’t suited or don’t perform well in face-to-face scenarios. Their ideas and opinions can get drowned out. Don’t let that happen. Open up a company blog where everybody can and should contribute. You’d be surprised at what people say when they’re not worried about interrupting someone or when they’re out from under someone’s personality.
- Write Things Down | Communication can’t happen if you lose the message, and with all the things that go on in a startup, you’re going to lose your fair share of messages. Unless you write them down, of course. This is something everyone should do. Listening to people is great, but can be meaningless if you don’t remember what they said later. You’re not the only one who should write things down – everyone in the company should, from managers to cubicle workers. It helps with accountability and making sure everyone gets the same message. If you’re not convinced, consider what you would do if you were at a restaurant with a large group of people and your waiter doesn’t write down your order, claiming that they will remember. Would you trust him?
- Get to Know Everyone | A startup is a small place. Everyone’s likely to interact with everyone else considering how each person is expected to go above and beyond the restrictions of their job description. That means everyone there will, at some point, need to communicate with almost every other member of the company. This can raise several problems, primarily the idea of knowing how to communicate with specific people. That’s one of the benefits of team building – it’s not just so you’re more comfortable with everyone, it’s so people can learn how others communicate and how they take certain tones. So get people into some team building exercises. Do it regularly, as people can change communication styles as they become more or less stressed. It doesn’t have to be something as formal as a company trip – going to lunch together, for example, can work wonders.
- Have Daily Morning Meetings | Regular office meetings are important, but they can eat up a lot of time. You can settle for a happy medium using daily morning meetings. Instead of having everyone meet, you can have each department meet for at most ten minutes at the start of each day so they can get caught up to speed. This will make sure that each department head is constantly updated throughout the week, ensuring that little slips through the cracks. This’ll also make sure they have news to deliver at the bigger meeting. It also allows for a bit of micro-management without letting managers loom after everyone’s shoulders.
A startup with weak internal communication is a startup with no legs to stand on. If you want to succeed as an entrepreneur, you must make it a top priority. Stay vigilant. This is not something you can just create and then leave. You must monitor internal talks regularly and make sure everyone is on the ball.
Here at Bleuwire our internal communication is rock solid – All department are working in symphony to help you business grow with technology.