It seems like it’s on our “to do” list every day. “Improve communication.” It’s something every growing business is focused on, and it’s a skill that remains elusive to many.
It sounds deceptively simple. Just talk more, right? Not really. Much like a moody teenager, communication is often misunderstood simply because, by definition, it can be abstract at best. One of the Merriam-Webster definitions of “communication” is:
the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.
For companies looking to improve communication in order to advance internal and external business relationships, that definition makes everything clear as mud—or at a minimum, too vague to be helpful. As a dealership looking to thrive in an economy that’s crowded and full of on-the-go consumers, it’s imperative you and your employees master the art of communication in order to win when it comes to sharing your brand message.
You’re likely aware of many opportunities that exist to help you and your employees hone your communication skills. There are consultants and online tests and tutorials; there are entire companies devoted to helping your dealership become a communication kingpin. But what if it all came down to something simple you and the other individuals within your dealership could all focus on together as a team? Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew the tricks to coaching your employees to be better communicators without having to enlist a hoard of corporate trainers, purchase stacks of workbooks, and put your teams through vigorous meetings? Here’s the thing. It’s not really some big corporate secret that’s keeping companies from communicating; in fact, it comes down to one single—but pretty MAJOR—thing.
In order to communicate effectively, you need to create solid relationships built on trust. That’s not to say you have to be best friends with coworkers and employees and invite their children to participate in your wedding; however, if every professional at your dealership focuses on developing great working relationships with one another, it will be much easier to communicate—when dealing with good news and when communicating the tougher stuff. So here’s what you need to remember:
When you build relationships at work, it makes communication easier, smoother, and more authentic.
In order to build working relationships that are conducive to open communication and information sharing, it’s important to remember, first and foremost, that people work together differently. Plan to take into consideration different communication styles and preferences and take cues from those around you as you implement new and improved ways of communicating. If you’re looking for ways to improve relationships in the workplace—which will lead to better communication and improved productivity—try the 7 Sure-Fire Ways to Grow Business Relationships to get you off to a great start:
1. Volunteer instead of being “volun-told.” A term that’s used jokingly when one is coerced into participating in life’s less-favored tasks, such as social outings with the in-laws, taking out the trash, or just waking up early, this can also apply to situations in the workplace. Don’t wait until you’re “volun-told” to undertake a task. If you want to earn points as a team player, volunteer your help where it’s needed most and put in some muscle for the sake of the company. Your efforts will be noticed.
2. Give positive feedback. As an employee, you know receiving great feedback can make a big difference in your day, so keep that in mind and do the same for others when the opportunity arises. When people see you’re paying attention and taking note of the hard work going on around you, you’ll build positive professional relationships and foster a culture of growth and communication.
3. Be understanding. Bad days happen every now and then, and if you realize this and remain calm in the face of a coworker’s bad day, you’ll have the opportunity to help turn potential negative situations into positive ones. Your understanding can make all the difference when it comes to turning the day around, and by being approachable and empathetic, you’ll open the door for improved work relationships.
4. Be humble. If you’re the one who’s had a bad day, recognize it—and be grateful to those coworkers who showed patience and kindness. Apologize and thank them for their understanding. Often, people who have lapses in workplace judgement skip this step, and in the relationship-building department, it’s important to let those around you know you appreciate them for standing by you.
5. Be a mentor. Be on the lookout for those you who need your help. You know it can be tough to learn the ropes and be successful in a busy dealership, especially if you don’t have other professionals to guide you along the way, so look for ways to help those who are still learning the business. When you share your expertise and experience, you’ll end up creating lasting professional relationships that will benefit the dealership and improve communication for everyone.
6. Be the fall guy. Not every time, but sometimes. If an upset customer comes in and is aiming directly for the brand-new sales rep, step up to the plate and help out. Let the customer know you’re sorry for any miscommunication and do your best to help resolve the situation. By presenting yourself as a teammate and assisting a less experienced salesperson, you’ll be teaching by example and showing him or her how to handle a difficult situation, and you’ll be building a professional relationship based on trust and teamwork. It’s a win-win.
7. Appreciate employee input. Anyone can contribute meaningful suggestions about how to better the dealership, improve relationships, and inspire employees. You’ll build better relationships if you remember valuable contributions come from individuals dealership-wide and don’t always have to come from those in management positions. When employees feel like their ideas are heard and considered, they are more open to continuous communication, and in turn, your dealership will benefit from an improved sense of community.
It takes effort on the part of every employee—starting with those in leadership positions setting examples for everyone else—to create a culture of trust and positive workplace relationships that foster greater communication. However, once you have taken the time to build a foundation of better communication, you’ll begin to see improvements in your overall workplace culture, including quicker and easier problem resolutions, minimal barriers to information sharing, and improved productivity due to higher levels of motivation and morale. All these benefits and more are to be gained by nurturing a culture of increased communication based on better workplace relationships. It’s worth the time and energy you invest when you see the payoff of an all-around better bottom line and strengthened employee skills.