Communication and engagement go together like biscuits and gravy, like macaroni and cheese, like bacon and eggs. Most of the time, it’s pretty hard to have one without the other. (Who wants a dry biscuit anyway?) Now that everyone is hungry, it’s time to take a look at the many ways communication is at work in your dealership and how you can use it to boost employee engagement, in turn, boosting performance, improving profitability, and increasing customer loyalty.
“All that from communication?” you may ask. The answer is yes, and here’s why.
Communication Is Contagious
Communication is not only a skill; it’s an art form. It is something that requires practice and coaching, but when it is done effectively throughout an organization, its impact can create a contagious culture of trust, loyalty, and positivity. Great communication serves as a catalyst to employee engagement because of its ability to unify and connect everyone, as well as keep everyone on the same page and working toward similar goals. In a nutshell, communication is powerful stuff.
Once you get everyone moving in the same direction with communication, you’ll start to see all-around improvements in your dealership environment. If your business could use a boost in engagement and a cultural makeover, take a peek at some of the great ways you can work to improve your internal communication:
- Define communication. If everyone on your staff were asked to give their ideas regarding the concept of successful communication, you would end up with enough different ideas to fill a shopping cart. That’s why it’s important to start by defining what communication means to you and everyone in your dealership before moving forward and implementing a new plan. Does communication mean open and transparent conversation between all staff members? Between every department? Does it mean emailing responses within a specific time frame? If you have parameters you’d like to set to help every employee achieve greater success, it’s a good idea to share those up front.
- Begin at the top. Start by defining high-level dealership goals and ideals so employees have a marker they can use to gauge their levels of success when it comes to communicating and interacting within their changing culture. By outlining the overall business expectations first, you’ll be setting up a framework for the tone of all employee communication. If employees understand the dealership’s goals for communication, it will be easier for them to understand how to implement communication strategies for specific departments and between individuals.
- Set an example. Employees will gain confidence and be more willing to exercise their growing communication skills when they see you and other dealership leaders demonstrating great communication in action. Since communication is a skill that requires practice, individuals will be likely to join in and participate in the changes happening throughout the dealership when you provide a solid example for them to follow. Your communication style is something employees can look to when the time comes for them to initiate their own professional interactions.
- Encourage interaction. Once you’ve introduced an improved communication style for your dealership, follow through by encouraging increased interaction between all employees. Employees who are able to comfortably interact with each other will be able to de-escalate conflicts in the workplace and work through day-to-day issues more effectively. This is also a skill that requires practice, so when employees come to you with disagreements or issues that need to be solved, encourage them to work together as supportive team members to find a workable solution that benefits the dealership. Your guidance as employees master this skill will help reassure them they are, indeed, strong communicators.
- Plan your content. Much like the content you plan for your online platforms, you should focus on delivering information to your employees in relevant and compelling ways. Every time you deliver information, take a look at your audience and plan your content so it has the desired effect when it is delivered. Be sure you clearly present the goals of your content when you communicate to employees—whether via email, group meeting, or one-on-one touchbase. It’s important they understand the message you are delivering and the intent behind your communication. When you get to know your audience and focus on the intended outcome of your communication, employees will be more engaged with your message.
- Don’t overwhelm. Everyone appreciates communication that is brief and to the point. Take a moment to consider whether a team meeting is necessary or whether your message could be shared via an email or a memo. Many employees feel overloaded with excessive meetings, so if possible, give them the option of accessing your message in a variety of ways. When feasible, consider optional meetings followed by wrap-up emails. Whatever your communication style, strive to strike a balance and avoid overwhelming your staff with mass communication they may not need.
Great communicators have a gift. Everyone reading this can probably immediately call to mind someone who has made an impression as a gifted communicator. Most of us, however, have to work to improve in the area of sharing and interacting with others—not only so that we are able to get our own ideas across, but also so that others feel comfortable sharing their ideas with us.
If you are working toward becoming a better sharer, a better communicator, a better teller of your dealership story—then you are on your way to engaging a group of advocates that will also be willing to tell your story. Communication and engagement work together, and when your employees feel included and knowledgeable about what’s going on with the business, they’ll be excited to share great things about your dealership with their online social circles. The way you communicate directly affects your dealership’s success, and when you make the decision to improve the way your entire dealership shares information, you’ll be making the decision to improve engagement, enhance customer service, increase brand recognition, and rev up your sales. Communication truly IS contagious, and when your dealership catches it, you’ll be well on your way to even more success.