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You want a work environment that is conducive to open communication. Ideally, you want employees to be able to discuss problems, successes, and ideas freely, without worrying about potential ramifications. To that end, there are several steps you can take to encourage open communication and make it easier for employees to share information.

1. Encourage communication from the top down. Openness starts with upper-level management. Lead by example, showcasing the communication trends and habits that you want to see in employees throughout the organization.

2. Don’t punish failure. Employees who fear that failure will be punished are less likely to share their struggles with individuals who might be able to help them. Instead, look at failure as an opportunity for improvement, and encourage employees to seek out help when necessary.

3. Keep your door open. An open door makes employees feel safer about approaching management. In many cases, this can be the difference between an employee who is comfortable bringing a situation to your attention and one who reluctantly walks by your office, wishing they had the nerve to approach you.

4. Provide opportunities for communication. From regular meetings to social opportunities, employees should have chances to discuss projects, go over issues, and open up about their concerns. The more often employees interact with one another, the greater the likelihood that they will communicate key information when it matters.

5. Handle conflict appropriately. Everyone within your organization isn’t going to get along all the time, and it’s unrealistic to expect that they will. Handling that conflict appropriately, however, is the difference between encouraging open communication and contributing to future issues. Encourage employees to deal directly with those they have conflict with, and make sure to handle issues before they get out of hand.

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Open communication in the workplace has a number of key benefits. When you enhance communication within your business, you also enable your employees to work more efficiently, more creatively, and more effectively.