Systems Implementation

Our Story:

Independent lodging & hospitality owner / operators are suffering. Worse yet, there is no one they can to turn to for help, Most small business owners and entrepreneurs ask themselves: Does anyone out there care about me or my business? Does anyone see me struggling? Does anybody really care enough to truly help me and help me in the right way?

Most small businesses are broken, they don’t work, the small business owner works. They don’t own a business, they own a job, the business owns them.

That’s why Partners In Systems was created. We provide concierge level of service and communications. We come to your doorstep and help you survive and then eventually achieve success. We have the systems, skills and knowledge to help you through every challenge you are facing. Systems are the antidote. Communication is key.

Our 21 System approach systematically invents the great results that your customers and clients will flock to. It breaks down your small business operation into manageable repeatable processes, tasks that can be performed at the hands of novices. The great end result is no more confusion in your operation, only clear communications, and a system that works for you and your employees.

By implementing the system, the system runs the business, your employees run the system. You ultimately gain control over your operation and yet freedom from that operation. Freedom to innovate, expand, inspire and even take a well deserved day off from the imprisonment you have been under. In short, you regain your American Dream.

If you are in need of help, please reach out to us. We’d love to help you and hear your story. That’s really the best part of my job, meeting each of you and helping empower small business owners to not just survive, but to strive and reach their dreams!

Do your have a turn-key operation?

Do you ever have to do this? We can help…

  • We eradicate all dysfunction from small business lodging & hospitality operation
  • What dysfunction exists in your business that you would want eliminated?
  • Do you as an owner feel you have no control over your small business operation?
  • Do your customers have no control over their experiences and interactions with your operation?
  • Did you know that all the dysfunction in your operation will find itself in your financial bottom line?
  • How do you communicate with your employees of what your expectations are of their behaviors, responsibilities of what they do and how they do it?
  • How do your employees communicate with you of what improvements could be made to your operation?
  • Do you perform certain tasks that you wish someone on your staff could do, but no one could do it as well as you can?
  • Do you constantly need to remind your employees to do things in a certain way every day, like a broken record?
  • Do your customers / clients ever complain to you that the job your staff did wasn’t up to their expectations?
  • Do you have a people-dependent or system-dependent business operation?
  • Do you feel like a slave to you business?
  • Do you work all the time in your business?
  • Do you need a vacation, but can’t leave your business?
  • Do you have employees that simply don’t care?

Our Great Result:

  • Eradicate all dysfunction from small business operation
  • Communicate with your employees of what your expectations are
  • Your employees communicate with you about improvements that could be made to your operation
  • Give control to your customers over the experience they receive constantly and consistently
  • You can go on vacation and not have to close down your business for a week or so, your customers will thank you for being open

Our process for delivering that great result:

  • Communicate
  • Concentrate
  • Collaborate with employees and owner / operator
  • Document systems & procedures
  • Implement best practices
  • Teach employees
  • Emancipate owners
  • Eradicate all dysfunction

Our promise to the small restaurant business owner / operator:

  • You could be as successful as an owner / operator of a McDonald’s franchise!
  • You could be as successful as the franchiser of McDonald’s!
  • You will be emancipated from the operation that has enslaved you from the outset
  • Your operation would deliver control to your customers over their experience in a constant and constant basis
  • You have complete control over your small business operation even in your absence
  • Your operation become system-dependent instead of people-dependent
  • Your business operation would become scaleable with exponential growth
  • Turn your job into an investment, an investment that could be sold for more money than it could be sold for right now
  • Create the prototype and then scale it with exact replicates of that prototype

Service Markets: Lodging & Hospitality We provide services to the following markets: Small to medium size (1 to 500 employees) lodging & hospitality business operation types:

  • Limited-Service Motels
  • Full-Service Hotels
  • Bed & Breakfast Inns
  • Vacation Rental Management Companies
  • Pizza Parlors & Take out
  • Diners & Coffee Cafes
  • Family Restaurants
  • Fine Dining Restaurants
  • Taverns & Night Clubs
  • Wineries & Craft Beer Breweries
  • just to name a few. That is our focus market only.

Employee Communications:

Communications in any business is a two-way street:

High-performing organizations make employee communications a priority.  They know that an engaged workforce contributes to the company’s success.  Employees become engaged when they understand the company’s fundamental principals and share in its mission, vision and values. 

Below are 10 tips for effective communication with employees: 

Be clear and concise.

Overwriting and using technical jargon will lead to confusion and misunderstanding. 

Set the tone at the top.

CEOs and senior leaders need to set the tone.  They need to be visible and accessible, and they need to understand that there’s a correlation between strategic employee communication and the achievement of organizational goals. 

Understand your employees.

You may need to communicate differently with different audiences.  Consider surveying them regularly and ask whether they are getting the information they need. 

Use many channels.

Most people need to hear or see a message multiple times, in multiple ways, to understand it completely.  Distribute your messages electronically, in writing, face-to-face, and at meetings.  Your message should be consistent across all these channels. 

Notify employees first.

When you prioritize your communications, always think of your internal people first.  Your employees should hear it from you before they hear it from anyone else.  They shouldn’t be surprised by a media report. 

Match actions with words.

Do what you say you’re going to do.  Otherwise, you undermine your credibility, and employees are less likely to believe or take seriously future communications. 

Emphasize face-to-face communication.

Although today’s employees may be more tech-savvy than ever, nothing beats human interaction.  Most employees want to hear news and information from their supervisors.  Train managers in how to communicate, and provide them with the necessary tools.  If managers are expected to help explain a complicated change to the organization’s pension plan, you need to provide them with talking points and handouts. 

Communicate regularly.

Be systematic and strategic.  Create an editorial calendar with regular dates for communicating with your employees, whether it’s by newsletter, email or a scheduled meeting. 

Measure effectiveness.

Set objectives and assess whether you have met them.  Ask employees whether the organization has communicated its strategy well.  Do they understand how their daily work helps the organization meet its goals? 

Facilitate conversation.

One-way communication is a thing of the past.  Employees who feel “listened to” have enhanced feelings of trust.  There are many ways to facilitate two-way communication including face-to-face meetings, interactive video interviews, employee surveys, Q&A features on the employee intranet, and anonymous suggestions via suggestion boxes. 

Employees significantly influence the outcome of any work project.  If you communicate strategically and with purpose, you’re more likely to see all of your employees working with a common purpose toward shared organizational goals.

Effective employee communication allows everyone to stay informed and work toward shared organizational goals.  It keeps employees engaged and eager to contribute to the company’s success. 

American businessman Lee Iacocca confirmed the need for effective communication when he said, “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.”

Employee Communications

7 Ways to Communicate Better with Your Employees

by Salary.com Staff – April 17, 2018

Develop & Maintain a Communication Strategy to Keep Your Workers Fully Engaged

Effective communication in the workplace is arguably the most important factor in the success of a company. Even so, many companies don’t take necessary steps to make sure their communication strategy is well-thought-out and flexible.

Here are eight suggestions to improve communication by taking down barriers that tend to exist in many businesses:

1. Create an environment of open communication where opinions are valued and not judged or punished.

In many cases, employees don’t communicate honest information to their superiors simply because they don’t want to disappoint them or show dissent. Push your employees to punch holes in the product and reward them for good ideas.

2. One thing many managers tend to do is give out a lot of work and expect employees to prioritize and deliver. This is generally a bad practice.

Employees don’t necessarily know what the priority is and it often leaves them overwhelmed. As a manager, think of a plan to get the work done without overloading those under your supervision.

3. Emotions can play a big role in efficiency and productivity.

Managers can’t necessarily control what happens to employees when they leave the office, but they can play a significant role in office morale. If employees are happy, they will be more productive. Be careful to not keep things in the office too casual or comfortable as this tends to make employees lazy, but do ensure that employees feel safe and have the tools to accomplish their goals.

4. Very often new employees find themselves having to learn their job, with the added barriers of trying to figure out what people are saying.

Using acronyms and slang may make things more efficient when speaking directions, but for a new employee, translating these can be a drag on productivity. Once employees become a little more familiar with these terms, using them is fine!

5. Employees have to be able to ask questions.

Employees – no matter their level of experience – should be able to ask questions without feeling like they are annoying their manager. Make sure the employee feels that their question was taken seriously and that it wasn’t in any way inappropriate to ask.

6. A big communication gap between managers and employees can occur with verbal instructions.

 When possible, communicate via email, text message, post-it, or in some other written form. If something is time sensitive, include the time and date the instruction was given. This gives the employee something to refer to long after the manager is gone. It also helps the manager maintain accountability; if they know instructions were given to the employee, and a project doesn’t get completed, there is a clear understanding of where the problem lies.

7. It’s impossible to fix communication problems if you can’t recognize the problems as they happen.

Let employees know what kind of communication you expect from them. Set up a system where they will respond to you with certain information at certain times. Remember, the Manager/Employee relationship is just that; a relationship. Everyone communicates differently, and it is up to the manager to figure out those differences and work with them or change them.

5 Ways to Effectively Communicate With Employees

Written by: David Krantz, CEO of YP

Effective communication with employees takes effort, repetition, thoughtfulness and most importantly needs to come from the heart.   Communication needs to be something business leaders seek to do whenever they can rather than considering it a check box before getting back to the “real work” of running the business.

Currently, I serve as the CEO of a local marketing solutions company that was created by combining two business units that were previously part of a bigger company. I was tasked to manage this complicated company carve out with the objective of transforming a legacy print business to a thriving digital business.  A major challenge was the employee base was more than 5,000 people with offices in 34 states, which meant regular and effective communication across the organization was critical to success.  From day one I chose to create an environment of open, transparent dialog about the company, our progress and what we need to do to win.

Here are five strategies I recommend putting in place for creating a culture of communication and alignment:

1. Send weekly correspondence to all employees in the company.

Every Monday without fail for the last three years I have sent a personally written email to every employee in the company about things I am thinking about and important topics for the business.  This kind of communication serves as an opportunity to truly connect and engage with the entire organization.  

2. Build comfort in talking about what is not working.

Many companies have a culture of looking for the positives and avoiding calling out and discussing the negatives.  Great companies focus on what is not going well so they can dig in and get better. This approach allows employees to feel they have a say in their company’s culture and their ideas are valued.

3. Hold town hall meetings.

Whether you have offices in one city or nationwide, plan for travel to have face-to-face conversations with these groups no matter the size. Make sure you aren’t just lecturing. Foster a two-way candid dialog. You will be able to learn a great deal about what is really happening in the business from these sessions, which can help you and your leadership team make better decisions.

4. Put on an annual senior leadership conference for your top leaders. 

This type of conference is a working session where every leader can hear the company strategy, plans and messages together and bring the information back to their teams.  An equally important value is the informal network building that takes place that enables leaders to have effective communication with each other throughout the year.

5. Answer every employee email within 24 hours. 

We are all busy but always have time for communicating with employees that work hard every day to serve your customers and build your company. Your team wants to be heard and feel appreciated. Commit to effective communications and you’ll be glad you did. 

How HR Can Communicate Important-But-Boring Stuff to New Hires

Written by Tobey Fitch, Head of People and Talent for Prezi

In today’s fast-paced business environment it’s critical to get new employees up to speed and productive as quickly as possible. Especially for large or growing companies where multiple new employees join every week, there is significant ROI for anything that shortens the onboarding process.

Then why do most companies’ new hire orientation programs fail to achieve this goal? Because often this necessary information is presented in a lengthy text-heavy, slide deck that is as boring as your car’s user manual. Slide 1: Vision, Mission, Values. Slide 2: IT and you. Slide 3: Your healthcare benefits. Slide: 4: Payroll. Slide 5: zzzzzzzzzzzz … The newly hired heads are nodding.

HR is saddled with the responsibility of communicating dense, boring information: performance review guidelines, compensation levels, employee handbook, etc. They write newsletters, design intranets, produce videos and create loads of presentations. While tedious, much of this information is critical to the employee at some point. And yet, when employees set out to find a particular piece of information they have to slog through a morass of slides to find what they need.

To overcome these challenges, HR needs a method for communicating that is:

Engaging: The audience needs to engage with the material. Boring, text-heavy slides won’t cut it. Visual presentations with minimal text are the most appealing and compelling.

Holistic: There needs to be a comprehensive overview or map that clarifies the interrelationship of all relevant HR information. To help your audience understand your material, connect the dots so they can see the big picture.

Contextual and cross platform: Employees need to be able to easily find the exact information they need when they need it, regardless of what device they are using to retrieve it. Create a fully accessible repository on your intranet or a document sharing service, like Box or Google Drive, with each file clearly labeled so employees can find what they’re looking for.

Collaborative: HR information is an aggregation of material from a variety of different sources. Therefore, HR professionals need to collaborate with their partners and colleagues around the company (often around the world) to pull this this information together. Their communication tools should facilitate this collaboration. Be sure to work off of a platform that enables contributors to work simultaneously to allow for maximized productivity and collaboration.

Modular: In medium and large companies, some HR information varies by department. For example, sales commission structures are not relevant to other departments, and office policies specific to one geographic location may not be relevant to an office in another country. Keep in mind the audience at all times. Make smaller more digestible presentations that are relevant for each specific audience.

Maintainable: HR information, like a company org chart, is always changing. It is critical, therefore, that that the communication media used to disseminate HR information is easily and cost-effectively maintainable. Find the right platform that can be updated on an ongoing basis, keeping the information in the same place for employees to access, but allowing the details to be modified by the owner.

Now, let’s return to the new-hire Orientation with these considerations in mind.

Imagine an interactive, holistic map of important HR, finance, IT and facilities information. This map can be accessed in the cloud, on the desktop or from a smartphone. Its design is contextual so that the employee immediately understands where to drill down for specific information. The map uses a collaborative software so all departments can easily add and maintain their information over time. The map’s structure is sufficiently general so that it, or segments from it, can be customized to different organizations within the company.

A communication medium that facilitates such an effective New Hire Orientation would change the nature of HR communications.

Your New Employees Will Want These 6 Things When They Come on Board

Andre Lavoie, Entrepreneur; CEO and Co-Founder, ClearCompany

First impressions matter — especially to new employees. In fact, a April 2013 study of 230 organizations by Aberdeen found that 90 percent of organizations believe employees make the decision to stay or leave within their first year.  

After successfully recruiting and selecting top talent, one of the primary ways a company can improve their talent-management process is by implementing an effective onboarding system. An onboarding system designed with employees’ needs in mind will help create a smooth transition for new hires and create a positive impression for employees.

It’s time to take a walk in the employee’s shoes. Here are six things news hires want from orientation and onboarding programs:

1. Company tour

New hires don’t want to begin their first day with a stack of paperwork. Before getting into the thick of the orientation and onboarding process, welcome new hires with a tour of the company to give them a chance to meet their new coworkers and learn about who they’ll be spending the lion’s share of their day with.

Successful onboarding programs make socialization a priority. A new hire’s ability to network within the workplace will help to create a comfortable work environment for new employees and increase the likelihood for early success.

2. On-the-job training

On-the-job training provides new employees with an opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge to better suit company needs. According to a 2013 survey of more than 3,900 U.S. employees by CareerBuilder, 35 percent of workers agree that increasing on-the-job training and development opportunities entices them to stay with a company.

Due to the various learning styles of employees, implementing hands-on training in the workplace, rather than just having employees read one manual after another, will help to reach all candidates. 

3. Mentorship program

The buddy system has been tried and true from our elementary school days to our work days. Providing new hires with a seasoned mentor will further aid in assimilating employees. Having a go-to person for questions, comments and concerns is a huge comfort for employees just starting off and can help to combat new job jitters.

4. Continued development

Traditional onboarding programs are short lived, lasting anywhere from one day to one week. The aforementioned Aberdeen research revealed that only 15 percent of organizations extend the onboarding process beyond six months.

Short-term on-boarding strategies are not effective in retaining employees or improving productivity and engagement. Instead, companies should strive to take the on-boarding process beyond traditional time frames in an effort to provide continued employee development.   

The Four Basic Styles of Communication: This resource is provided by the UK Violence Intervention and Prevention Center

1. PASSIVE COMMUNICATION is a style in which individuals have developed a pattern of avoiding expressing their opinions or feelings, protecting their rights, and identifying and meeting their needs. As a result, passive individuals do not respond overtly to hurtful or anger-inducing situations. Instead, they allow grievances and annoyances to mount, usually unaware of the buildup. But once they have reached their high tolerance threshold for unacceptable behavior, they are prone to explosive outbursts, which are usually out of proportion to the triggering incident. After the outburst, however, they may feel shame, guilt, and confusion, so they return to being passive. Passive communicators will often:  fail to assert for themselves  allow others to deliberately or inadvertently infringe on their rights  fail to express their feelings, needs, or opinions  tend to speak softly or apologetically  exhibit poor eye contact and slumped body posture The impact of a pattern of passive communication is that these individuals:  often feel anxious because life seems out of their control  often feel depressed because they feel stuck and hopeless  often feel resentful (but are unaware of it) because their needs are not being met  often feel confused because they ignore their own feelings  are unable to mature because real issues are never addressed A passive communicator will say, believe, or behave like:  “I’m unable to stand up for my rights.”  “I don’t know what my rights are.”  “I get stepped on by everyone.”  “I’m weak and unable to take care of myself.”  “People never consider my feelings.”

2. AGGRESSIVE COMMUNICATION is a style in which individuals express their feelings and opinions and advocate for their needs in a way that violates the rights of others. Thus, aggressive communicators are verbally and/or physically abusive. Aggressive communicators will often:  try to dominate others  use humiliation to control others  criticize, blame, or attack others  be very impulsive  have low frustration tolerance  speak in a loud, demanding, and overbearing voice  act threateningly and rudely  not listen well  interrupt frequently  use “you” statements  have an overbearing or intimidating posture The impact of a pattern of aggressive communication is that these individuals:  become alienated from others  alienate others  generate fear and hatred in others  always blame others instead of owning their issues, and thus are unable to mature The aggressive communicator will say, believe, or behave like:  “I’m superior and right and you’re inferior and wrong.”  “I’m loud, bossy and pushy.”  “I can dominate and intimidate you.”  “I can violate your rights.”  “I’ll get my way no matter what.”  “You’re not worth anything.”  “It’s all your fault.”  “I react instantly.”  “I’m entitled.”  “You owe me.”  “I own you.”

3. PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE COMMUNICATION is a style in which individuals appear passive on the surface but are really acting out anger in a subtle, indirect, or behind-the-scenes way. People who develop a pattern of passive-aggressive communication usually feel powerless, stuck, and resentful – in other words, they feel incapable of dealing directly with the object of their resentments. Instead, they express their anger by subtly undermining the object (real or imagined) of their resentments. Passive-Aggressive communicators will often:  mutter to themselves rather than confront the person or issue  have difficulty acknowledging their anger  use facial expressions that don’t match how they feel – i.e., smiling when angry  use sarcasm  deny there is a problem  appear cooperative while purposely doing things to annoy and disrupt  use subtle sabotage to get even The impact of a pattern of passive-aggressive communication is that these individuals:  become alienated from those around them  remain stuck in a position of powerlessness (like POWs)  discharge resentment while real issues are never addressed so they can’t mature The passive-aggressive communicator will say, believe, or behave like:  “I’m weak and resentful, so I sabotage, frustrate, and disrupt.”  “I’m powerless to deal with you head on so I must use gorilla warfare.”  “I will appear cooperative but I’m not.”

4. ASSERTIVE COMMUNICATION is a style in which individuals clearly state their opinions and feelings, and firmly advocate for their rights and needs without violating the rights of others. These individuals value themselves, their time, and their emotional, spiritual, and physical needs and are strong advocates for themselves while being very respectful of the rights of others. Assertive communicators will:  state needs and wants clearly, appropriately, and respectfully  express feelings clearly, appropriately, and respectfully  use “I” statements  communicate respect for others  listen well without interrupting  feel in control of self  have good eye contact  speak in a calm and clear tone of voice  have a relaxed body posture  feel connected to others  feel competent and in control  not allow others to abuse or manipulate them  stand up for their rights The impact of a pattern of assertive communication is that these individuals:  feel connected to others  feel in control of their lives  are able to mature because they address issues and problems as they arise  create a respectful environment for others to grow and mature The assertive communicator will say, believe, or behave in a way that says:  “We are equally entitled to express ourselves respectfully to one another.”  “I am confident about who I am.”  “I realize I have choices in my life and I consider my options.”  “I speak clearly, honestly, and to the point.”  “I can’t control others but I can control myself.”  “I place a high priority on having my rights respected.”  “I am responsible for getting my needs met in a respectful manner.”  “I respect the rights of others.”  “Nobody owes me anything unless they’ve agreed to give it to me.”  “I’m 100% responsible for my own happiness.” Assertiveness allows us to take care of ourselves, and is fundamental for good mental health and healthy relationships.

6 Policies Your Small Business Should Put in Writing Today

A company founder has to do everything possible to limit liability for any problems that occur, whether it involves anything from worker safety to refund policies. Get your policies and procedures in writing as soon as you can.

By John Boitnott Journalist and digital consultant

As a small business owner, you face a variety of risks, especially as you begin to work with more clients and hire employees. Your business deals with a certain amount of liability each day and you can reduce some of that liability by having your policies clearly outlined in writing.

With so much to do, maintaining an extensive policies and procedures manual can be tricky. Luckily there are many templates available to get you started, especially if your policies are internal. You can refine these templates for your specific needs and update them as your business grows. Here are six basic policies your business should have in place before you add another client or hire additional employees.

1.) Workplace Safety Policies

Whether your business operates in a factory or a standard office complex, anyone who steps onto your property faces some level of risk. A data entry worker could develop carpal tunnel syndrome while in your employ. Your company vice president could injure himself moving a computer from one office to another. By putting workplace safety policies in place, you can help mitigate any damages caused by an employee’s negligence.

2.) Disciplinary Policies

Occasionally you’ll have the need to terminate an employee. When that occasion arises, you’ll have a much more straightforward experience if the employee has been cautioned about the process. If your expectations for performance are outlined in the employee’s initial job description, you can show a history of problems by detailing those issues in regular evaluations and write-ups.

3.) Device Use Policies

You may not realize that as an employer, you could be held responsible for the actions of those in your employ. That means if one of your workers conducts illegal activities on one of your systems, you may be answerable for it. Businesses protect themselves against liability in these instances by having a clearly written usage policy that outlines what workers can and cannot do on devices connected to your network.

4.) Work Hours and Turnaround Time

In the early days, your policies may relate more to your business processes than your team, since you won’t have a robust team starting out. One important first step should relate to your availability, including your working hours. Studies show that customers prefer talking to live customer service representatives. Will you be available for calls or emergency concerns after hours or are you only available during business hours? Set those expectations up front to avoid disappointment on either end.

Your turnaround time for each request should also be outlined in the beginning. Whether your business handles graphic design or pest control, you should have a clearly outlined policy regarding response time. If a customer or client asks that you dramatically reduce that response time, you should also have a written policy in place to cover whether this will incur an extra charge.

5.) Late Payment Policies

Before you do your first job, you should create a payment process for the work you’ll perform. How will you invoice your clients and what forms of payment will be accepted? Set a grace period for payments to be made before a small service charge is added. Many businesses allow 30 days from the time of invoice for the payment to be made before they begin sending late payment notices.

6.) Return/Refund Policies

If your business is a retailer or e-commerce business, you should have a return policy clearly posted on your website or store signage. If you put a strict return policy in place, ask yourself whether you plan to stand firmly behind that policy or capitulate for those customers who escalate a complaint up the chain of command. Refunds are still a possibility for service-oriented businesses, even though there is no product to resell. Many businesses offer satisfaction guarantees to lure new business in. While you likely won’t be able to offer a 100 percent money-back guarantee, you should consider how you’ll handle things when a client or customer is dissatisfied with your work.

Written policies are a great way to protect yourself, while also providing a safe, fair working environment for your employees. While written policies won’t completely eliminate the issues you’ll face as a business owner, they will provide an element of protection as you hire new team members and work with clients.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

Seven Ways to Increase Communication in Your Small Business

By Alyssa Gregory

Updated September 26, 2019

Communication is the foundation of every relationship in your life. Without effective communication, there can be misunderstandings, problems, and conflicts among your staff, your clients and everyone else you come into contact with. Poor communication can make a work environment frustrating, and create a large amount of employee turnover.

These tips can help you fine-tune your communication skills so you can save time, reduce stress and become more productive by communicating effectively in your business interactions.

Limit Distractions and Listen

Most of us are not very adept at listening to others. Everyone is distracted, and average attention spans are reportedly beginning to shrink. There are a few actions you can take to limit distractions so that you can focus on what others are saying.

You could try closing your email client, turning off your phone ringer, and closing the door to your office. These few simple actions not only reduce your distractions, but they also do the same for the person you are listening to and lets them know you are focusing on them.

Take the time to focus on the person in front of you. You probably have several important issues to deal with that are on your mind. However, you can use this time to not think about them.

The person you are listening to believes what they have to say is important. Slow yourself down and establish a give-and-take that allows both parties to speak and listen. Try not to make snap judgments, and wait patiently for them to finish speaking. These are the first steps you can take toward becoming an active listener.

Active listening is the art of listening to understand. There are several techniques you can use to increase your listening and retention skills. As you listen, use verbal prompts to keep information flowing. Prompts such as “Really? What did you do then?” gives them an opening to further explain something.

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Rephrase and speak back what the person is telling you. This feedback lets them know that you are listening and understanding. For example, “So the machine was working fine, and Bob told you that if you did it this way, the machine would work better. Then it stopped working?” demonstrates an understanding of the circumstances that an employee says led to a piece of equipment breaking down.

Typically, to get more information from someone you need to be able to ask questions designed to solicit the right information. The person you are talking to may be too excited to listen to you as you are trying to figure out what is going on, so your questions will need to usually be clear and concise.

Body language is another indicator of listening. You should ensure your body language is not suggesting anything other than openness and interest. You can do this by mirroring the postures of the other person, or leaning in to concentrate.

Ask the Right Questions

To get the information you need to understand someone, you’ll have to be able to ask the right questions while presenting an open mind. Relax your body, uncross your arms, and listen for opportunities to ask questions.

Usually, there are clues given by people that should alert you to the questions you should ask. Listen for keywords and phrases to help you figure out which questions will unravel the information you need.

Consider the case of an employee who has not been meeting goals and is generally unhappy at work. If you don’t ask the right questions, you may never get to the root of the issue, which may not be easily identifiable.

If the person was motivated upon hiring and performed well until a few weeks ago, they may have developed some personal issues, not be challenged by the work anymore, or have problems with a coworker.

Don’t Rely on Meetings for Information

Meetings are one of the worst settings for communication between parties. People will not speak their mind, and you will not be able to uncover the truth in most situations. Most people walk into meetings with their defenses automatically up.

Meetings can be beneficial for quick briefings or direct informational communications that everyone present has an interest in. However, there is no need to gather everyone together if not everyone has a stake in the topics, or if it is not well-planned and organized.

For more effective communications, choose a setting that is more likely to keep people from putting up a personal barrier. One on one settings or a well-planned meeting with only the people involved tends to work well, as this keeps the focus on just the issues they deal with.

Combine Communication Methods

Face-to-face or voice-to-voice communication is great for eliminating the confusion that often comes with an email. Leading by email is never a good practice because it eliminates the personable approach you can take by talking to someone, and emails are rarely as clear to the audience as they are to the sender.

Video calls are a wonderful way to communicate because you can see the person you are talking to and share documents while working to understand each other. Visual interactions are important because we give cues when we talk that can help people understand the point being made.

If most of your communication takes place in situations other than face to face, you can create summary videos or presentations that outline what was discussed, what the next steps are and who is responsible for what.

Be Responsive

Communication is one of the best methods to resolve conflicts or disputes. As a business owner, one of the worst things you can do when faced with a conflict, dispute or complaint is ignore it. There should be a response issued immediately, even if it’s just a brief statement that you’ll look into the issue.

When people reaching out to you feel like their issue is important to you, and receive feedback on their concerns, you will be more likely to keep clients and employees happy.

Use the Feedback You Receive

If you are already communicating with your clients, employees, and co-workers, you will probably receive feedback regularly. You may not be soliciting it, but an active listener can find information everywhere.

Listening to everyone you come into contact with is a goldmine of useful information on the way your business, products, and services are perceived by clients and potential clients.

To make positive communication changes, you should use the information you gather to improve your processes. Create a process for collecting the feedback you receive in one place, then set aside time at regular intervals to analyze it and create a plan for implementing and tracking improvements.

Ultimately, effective communication can be one of the most important skills you use in your business. If your communication skills can use some fine-tuning, take time to analyze how you communicate. Then try to focus on ways you can improve your skills over time. You might be surprised how much simply listening can change your relationships with staff, clients, colleagues, and family.

Workplace Communication Styles for Small Businesses

How Does Your Workplace Communication Style Impact Your Team?

By Kate L. Harrison

Updated September 24, 2019

To say that good communication in the workplace affects the financial bottom line is a serious understatement. In a recent survey of 400 companies with 100,000+ employees, the average estimated loss per company from poor internal communications was $62.4 million. The communication challenges facing small businesses with smaller teams may not be as complex or costly as an international corporation, but they can be equally detrimental to the health and overall success of the company.

According to thought leader and NY Times best-selling author Mark Murphy, there are four kinds of core communication styles: Analytical, Intuitive, Functional, and Personal. While he states that no single style is better than any other, understanding your own style can help you do a better job of sharing and receiving important information with others. Here are Murphy’s four styles with some of their pros and cons, as well as ways you may be able to improve your communication in the workplace.

Analytical Communicators

Analytical Communicators are often categorized as chart-loving, data-driven people. They frequently focus on facts and projections, love citing figures and statistics, and tend to rely on data-driven decision-making. Conversely, they can get frustrated if they feel that someone on their team is making decisions without a good handle on the numbers.

  • Pros: Analytical Communicators provide solid ground for their colleagues in stressful situations as they can help make decisions using research, facts, and logic.
  • Cons: Analytical Communicators’ reliance on facts and statistics can be seen as “heartless” by colleagues who focus on emotion or intuition.

What you can do to improve: If you are an Analytical Communicator, try to practice patience with colleagues who may not be tracking things as analytically as you are. You might also consider making space for some emotional time in meetings, which are unlikely to run as efficiently as you would like. When presenting to Intuitive Communicators in particular, it’s important to try to add visuals and start with a summary of how your findings impact the big picture. Put all your data slides in your appendix and be prepared not to display them unless asked.

Intuitive Communicators

Intuitive Communicators are big thinkers who tend to want the bottom line first, without a lot of detail. Having to listen to someone review their step-by-step process can feel unnecessary.

  • Pros: Intuitive Communicators can be very efficient since they look for the most important points first. Their own communications are usually quick and focused. They tend to enjoy new challenges and creative “big picture” thinking, so they are ideal candidates for brainstorming sessions.
  • Cons: Some situations require getting down into the weeds and really understanding the details. For example, Intuitive Communicators may miss key points unless they are provided with regular summaries to keep them on board.

What you need to do to improve: Intuitive Communicators can have a hard time understanding the thought processes of data-obsessed Analytical Communicators, as well as with the needs of Functional Communicators, who want to walk through all their processes methodically. If you’re an Intuitive Communicator who manages those who are Analytical or Functional, ask them to start their meetings with a summary. This helps orient everyone and can help all involved parties get on the same page. Nonetheless, recognize that some employees may feel anxious if you don’t present the steps in the process, they need to validate their conclusions.

Functional Communicators

Functional Communicators are process people. They like to break large tasks into smaller tasks, and love timelines, whiteboards, and ‘Gantt’ charts.

  • Pros: Functional Communicators make amazing project managers because they tend to pay attention to details and are good at making sure nothing slips through the cracks. They can also help keep staff on track by doing the grunt work of planning and charting. Functional Communicators are also great for challenging assumptions and can help a team think about the impact of different choices going forward.
  • Cons: The downside of being a Functional Communicator is that those who do not think this way can sometimes be bored by what you want to talk about. Getting into the tiny details of a project can risk losing attention.

What you need to do to improve: Remember that some people, especially Intuitive Communicators, can feel overwhelmed and bogged down by a methodical approach. They will want to jump ahead, which can be frustrating because you know how much they are missing. By giving them a summary of what they need to know up front, and then pointing out key details later, you’ll be better able to keep the attention of everyone in the room. In meetings, try to focus less on the details of what has happened already, and more on the impact of choices still to be made.

Personal Communicators

Personal Communicators are the glue that holds the office’s social and emotional life together. They place a high value on feelings and emotional connection, and use their strong interpersonal skills to understand what others are “really thinking.” They know that getting buy-in and collaboration requires trust, and trust is built on emotion rather than facts.

  • Pros: Personal Communicators are the office diplomats, often called on to help smooth tensions. Their contributions can range from helping convey different, big ideas in varying manners, to resolving tensions about some of the small yet irksome workplace things, such as how the communal fridge is managed.
  • Cons: Personal Communicators can sometimes seem over-emotional, or “touchy-feely.” This is especially apparent to those who are less in tune with emotions, or who may choose to maintain a more buttoned-up demeanor at work.

What you need to do to improve: Try to remember that not everyone wants to hug things out. Some coworkers can experience your desire to have a more emotional connection as a distraction. Keep focused on building connections with those who are willing, while giving others the space they need to succeed.

Bottom Line

Each communication style brings unique skills and challenges to an office environment. By understanding your style and the styles of those around you, you can remove many of the roadblocks clogging the communication channels that your small business must rely on to succeed.