Cultivating Communication, Critical Thinking and Collaborative Skills in Your Workforce
While many companies have long-term employees who have grown with the business, it’s still important to cultivate and encourage the 3 C’s: Communication, Critical Thinking, and Collaboration. These Big 3 skills are needed at all levels. Developing them will only strengthen and improve your company. Here are just a few easy and low-cost ways to develop these vital skills in employees of all types.
- Offer Continuing Education- There are many free or low-cost resources to help your company foster and encourage communication skills, which in turn affect both collaboration and critical thinking. Either offer these courses to staff or require them for each team member. Required courses should be simple enough to keep up with during a 40-hour work week, but challenging enough to strengthen core skills.
If you simply offer the courses, make sure there are rewards for completing the course. A gift card to the local coffee shop or lunch with the boss or department head can go a long way to encourage team members to get involved in honing their communication skills.
- Have Mandatory Fun-ferences- Conversation skills are best grown when they are practiced. Have little lunches, get-togethers or fun-ferences (fun conferences) where different team members can meet and discuss ideas and issues with other employees. This will help each employee feel more comfortable discussing ideas, issues, and challenges with other teammates. It will also increase company loyalty and decrease turnover rates.
- Strategic Games- Add in game time. Games are a great way to teach and strengthen all three skills. Players will often have to work together to reach a common goal. They’ll have to communicate ideas and actions. And of course, team members will have to think critically and develop strategies to win or succeed. Make it a fun staff luncheon once a month or send out puzzles for employees to solve on monthly newsletters with the winning team getting special gifts, recognition, or other perks.
- Create Team Challenges- Either place departments on teams or better yet, place a member from each department on different teams. Have them work together in small challenges, they can be somewhat physical challenges or fun simple challenges like scavenger hunts or puzzles. Creating teams across departments will create better communication between departments and help encourage creative thought and collaborations.
- Get on Board with Giving- Have each boss, manager, or department head be part of a team, preferably one outside of their department. Use these teams to compete in charitable works. Placing managers on even ground with employees while working for a greater good will help foster communication and collaboration. Employees will see their managers more clearly, which will make them feel comfortable with coming to them with problems, ideas, or concerns.
- Have Open Dialogue Sessions- In an informal setting, sit down and really talk to your employees. Getting to know them in a personal way will work to create a more open dialogue. This can be easily done through company lunches, outings, over coffee, or celebrations. Knowing your employees and hearing their passions, ideas, and worries, helps you utilize their strengths and help them grow in their areas of weakness. This will also help them come to you with innovative ideas, solutions, and even issues before they get out of hand.
- Celebrate Success- Never, ever forget to celebrate accomplishments, on all levels of your company. Also, you can easily celebrate employees and still stick to the budget. In fact, consider having a do-good comment box, where anyone can write down great work they’ve noticed in other employees. Workers who feel appreciated become invested in their job and their company. They are less likely to leave and are more likely to add value to the company.
There are many ways to foster communication, critical thinking, and collaboration. Instilling an atmosphere that values these vital skills in your workplace will affect your business in incredible ways. Your company culture will become well-balanced. Your employees will be happy, invested, and productive. These small changes can bring about giant results for you and the future of your company.