What is a Communication Improvement Plan?

April 16, 2023

7 min read

Communication is arguably the most important skill you need in a workplace (and in life). If you or one of your employees struggles to communicate effectively at work, it’s a good idea to look into creating an action plan to improve communication skills. In this article, we’ll cover the ins and outs of how to create a communication improvement plan.

Performance improvement plans (PIPs) are a tool organizations use to help employees who are not meeting job expectations or performance standards. PIPs typically identify specific areas where an employee is not meeting expectations, establish measurable goals and objectives for improvement, and set a timeline for achieving those goals. If you have an employee struggling to communicate effectively at work, creating a PIP is a great way to help them achieve their full potential.

Whether you’re a manager seeking to help an employee maximize their success or an individual trying to improve your own ability to communicate, creating a communication improvement plan is the best way to start. Here is everything you need to know about developing a performance improvement plan for communication skills.

The Importance of Communicating Effectively

Communication skills are vital in the workplace: they empower employees to work more productively, build strong relationships, and achieve their goals. In order to motivate yourself or your underperforming employee to stick to a PIP, it’s important to understand the value in doing the hard work of becoming a better communicator.

Poor Communication Hinders Productivity

When employees aren’t able to communicate their goals and ideas clearly, mistakes and misunderstandings are bound to arise. Your team is only as strong as its weakest link. If one team member struggles to communicate effectively, your entire team will suffer. Therefore, investing in a struggling employee’s communication skills by developing a PIP with them can actually increase productivity within your entire team. Clear and direct communication in your office saves everyone’s time. It reduces the time spent asking for clarification or fixing mistakes resulting from misunderstandings. Addressing obstacles to effective communication within your team will increase everyone’s productivity.

Good Communication Builds Relationships

Strong communication skills build trust. When employees and higher-ups express themselves openly and honestly, it creates a culture of trust in the workplace. A workplace culture built on mutual trust and respect leads to better teamwork, decision making, and problem solving. What’s more, a habit of communicating clearly helps with conflict resolution. Employees who are skilled at communication can articulate their needs and concerns clearly, and work collaboratively to find solutions. When conflicts arise, good communication skills can help to resolve issues quickly and amicably. The ability to smoothly overcome conflict can help employees build strong relationships and create a harmonious workplace culture.

Professional Development

Becoming a better communicator with a performance improvement plan for communication issues will get you your next raise or promotion.

Employees who can communicate effectively are more likely to be recognized for their achievements, considered for promotions, and trusted with leadership roles. Therefore, investing in an employee’s growth through a performance improvement plan for communication skills will help them achieve their goals. On the other hand, working to improve your own communication skills will help you access opportunities for promotions and raises.

Benefits of Creating a Performance Improvement Plan for Communication Skills

Performance improvement plans benefit both individuals and organizations. They provide a supportive and structured framework for improving employee performance, which can lead to increased engagement and help organizations retain valuable employees. Demonstrating that you care about your employees’ success at work can combat a phenomenon some have termed “turnover contagion”.

While it may seem like telling an employee they need to improve their communication skills would strain a professional relationship, the opposite is the case. If you’re a manager with a struggling employee, creating a PIP actually shows you care. An employee who feels they aren’t excelling in their job may be more likely to quit than ask for help. However, if you intervene with a structured growth plan for an underperforming employee, they’ll be motivated to improve in their current job rather than looking for a new one. In the long run, both the individual and the organization benefit.

If you want to improve your own communication skills, creating a structured improvement plan is a great way to show your employer and colleagues that you are committed to growth. Having a growth mindset is an asset in any area of life: demonstrate to your boss that you have a growth mindset by committing to a PIP.

Three Strategies for Your Action Plan to Improve Communication

There are many ways to become a better communicator. A great PIP for communication issues should incorporate as many of these tools as possible. Here are three tangible steps you can take to overcome communication issues.

1. Find a Coach

There are many professionals who dedicate their entire careers to helping people become stronger communicators. These include social skills coaches, conversation coaches, and speech coaches. They are experts in how to express yourself clearly at work and in your personal life. Incorporating sessions with a public speaking coach into your action plan for communication issues is a fantastic way to make progress.

The bad news is that hiring these coaches can be expensive. Some companies provide professional development stipends to their employees that can be used to attend workshops or pay for coaching sessions. However, if your employer doesn’t provide this type of support, a great resource is Yoodli’s free AI-powered speech coaching. You can get all the benefits of individual coaching without the price tag: speech rate and filler word analysis, eye contact tracking, and a zero-judgement conversation partner with Yoodli‘s real-time follow up questions feature.

It’s easy to make Yoodli’s speech coach part of your action plan for improving communication skills. Practice anytime, anywhere–just record or upload a video to get instant AI-powered feedback.

2. Keep a Journal

Journaling is a great strategy to implement in your plan to improve communication skills.

It might seem counterintuitive to improve your ability to talk to others by writing in a journal. However, writing is a form of communicating. Any practice expressing yourself clearly and concisely, even on paper, will help you improve your communication skills.

As you begin the process of becoming a great communicator, write down any thoughts you have about starting this journey. These could include what you hope to get better at, parts of the process that scare you, or any other feelings you have throughout your journey. There is no wrong way to journal. Keeping track of your communication improvement journey is a great way to reflect on your progress and show your manager that you’re committed to self-improvement. PIPs often incorporate timelines for achieving tangible goals. If you keep a daily journal, you’ll be able to point to dates when you reached certain goals. You can use this to your advantage in meetings with your supervisor regarding your PIP and show them exactly how much you’ve grown.

Just like in any long process, you’ll have good days and bad days. It’s important to acknowledge what’s going well and what you’re struggling with. Nobody else has to read your journal, so you can be 100% honest about your progress without worrying about feeling judged. In addition, keeping a journal is a great way to stay motivated. After just a few weeks of journaling, you’ll be able to look back and see that something you struggled with your first few days has become easy!

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

It’s important to keep in mind that improving communication skills takes time and patience. You have to be consistent in your efforts and practice regularly to see results, as with any skill. The more you communicate, the more comfortable you will feel expressing yourself. The key to being a strong communicator is the ability to respond confidently in any environment, no matter what someone throws your way. Practice thinking on your feet with Yoodli’s fun, low-stress speaking games and you’ll get better and better at communicating outside your comfort zone.

An important, yet often overlooked, element of practicing is incorporating feedback as you practice. After every work meeting, presentation, or interview, reflect on how you expressed yourself and what areas leave room for improvement. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues or supervisor what they felt went well about a presentation and what you could improve. With Yoodli for Online Meetings, you can get private, real-time coaching on all of your virtual meetings, interviews, and presentations. This means you can easily get feedback on your communication style without having to ask.

These three strategies can help you overcome communication problems in all areas of your life. Both your performance at work and your interpersonal relationships will benefit from clear, direct communication.

Creating a Communication Improvement Plan: The Bottom Line

In this article, we’ve covered why communication is so important, the benefits of creating a performance improvement plan for communication issues, and solid strategies you can incorporate into your communication improvement action plan. Excellent communication skills are essential for success in all areas of personal and work life. With a robust performance improvement plan and a lot of hard work, you’ll see great results.


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