Communication remains one of the major objectives among staff in the workplace. In busy studio environments, regular check-ins with staff can often be overlooked in order to focus on deliverables. According to a Gallop poll, employees who have regular one-on-ones with their managers are 3x more likely to be engaged, which leads to increased productivity and performance. Effective communication between all levels in a studio leads to a more positive environment, ultimately helping to improve staff performance and assist with effective succession planning.
Why is communication so essential in a working environment? Active communication between staff and seniors builds trust, encourages staff that their work is purposeful, removes blockers and promotes accountability; however, communication can only be successful when it is received and reciprocated accurately. One-on-ones are an effective tool to allow staff to feel encouraged and open to sharing their thoughts and feelings about their workplace experience. While asking how your team is feeling today during your morning meeting will only scratch the surface, one-on-one’s will allow you to connect on more important challenges and concerns you otherwise wouldn’t know your staff is experiencing. How do you know what questions staff want you to ask? You may want to start incorporating one-on-one meetings weekly or bi-weekly, focusing on conversations concerning team, and personal performance. These meetings do not have to be formal in any way, a coffee chat or a walk would suffice. Focus on no more than two or three questions at a session.
Here are just a few examples for questions you can ask your staff to get the conversation going.
What’s one thing we can do to improve the performance of the team?
Topics like these allow conversations with staff to become more vulnerable which is exactly what you want. Staff feel safe in a one-on-one environment to share their analysis of the team without the presence of others, allowing them to be more open and honest. Staff may often not feel comfortable to share their honest feelings or concerns about team performance if asked this question amongst the team. Closing this discussion down to just the two of you allows for an honest flow of conversation.
“Is our current level of communication effective?”
Show your team that you care about consistent and effective communication. Nothing feels better to staff than knowing management is in a position to assist and support them if necessary. Giving your staff the opportunity to request more communication is showing them that you want them to succeed together. A conversation like this also sets accountability.
If you were managing the team, what would you do differently?
Your staff are immersed in the team dynamic on a daily basis, often on a different scale than management is. Their perspective of the working environment is different from yours and because of this, they often have opinions and suggestions on how the workplace can be improved but are rarely given the opportunity to express them. Giving your staff this opportunity encourages the idea that their opinions are valuable to the company and are taken seriously. This helps to build a level of trust between management and staff.
“Are there any topics or concerns on your mind that we haven’t discussed that you would like to talk about now?”
Allow your staff to feel encouraged to bring up their own topics. Staff can sometimes have issues they want to discuss and just need you to open the floor for conversation. This creates a trusting environment where their opinions and concerns have a purpose and will be heard. This allows managers to then help identify the necessary needs for the specific staff member and take action on an on-going basis.