Communications basics in the office.

An office environment is made up of people with a range of personalities, needs, desires and skill levels. When managed even at a basic level the environment can be very healthy. We all know it’s not easy to keep the balance with the variety of motivations employees (and managers) have during office hours. Here are some very basic tips or best practices I’ve learned “over the years.”

  • Leave your personal baggage at the door when you walk in the office every morning. This is harder than it sounds since you spend a lot of time with your co-workers and some may even become friends that you trust. You then start to share your personal business and develop deeper relationships with those you work with. Back to my point . . . if you can practice taking a deep breath on your way in the door each day and thinking “I’m at work now” and put your personal business away to concentrate your efforts on work for the next 8-10 hours you’ll be much better off. And so will those around you.

  • Don’t assume others are at your beck and call. Everyone is busy. Practice this: “Is there time in your schedule to accommodate me for 10 minutes later today or tomorrow morning?”
  • Help others realize you are not at their beck and call. Practice this: “I’d really like to help, my schedule is full now, how about tomorrow morning?”
  • When another does walk into your office, have the courtesy to take your hands off your keyboard, look in their direction and give some sign of acknowledgment.
  • In the extreme basics category fall: say good morning; acknowledge one another when passing by in the hall; don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink (must I go on?).

If you manage people, you have responsibilities as part of your job that are not practiced often enough:

  • Provide adequate resources to do the work expected.
  • Provide training and a source of advice when questions arise.
  • Listen.
  • Provide feedback. This is a big one for me. People want to know how they are doing. Am I doing well? Not so well? Tell me! What can I do to improve?
  • Another big one: Say thank you! In person. In front of others. Via email. During reviews. All of the above. Sounds simple but few practice what means so much to so many and can have such positive results.

I know some think it corny but one of the best exercises performed at a prior place of employment was to hire a consultant to conduct a personality seminar – you know, like Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or similar. All benefited from the day, learning how to communicate effectively with other personality types. I’m sure it’s still paying off, because I know as part of the hiring process that company now does some basic personality typing to not only help managers, but also help employees get the most out of the work environment.

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