When we are born one of the first things we learn is how to communicate. First by pointing, then as we develop we begin verbalising our basic needs and emotions. As adults it can feel like communication becomes less easy and more complex. In business, communication can be a minefield. Communication is critical to every organisation and every business. Get it wrong and at best your team are disengaged and out of the loop, at worst your bottom line will take the biggest hit.
How do you know if you’ve got a communication problem?
Maybe you are coming up against issues within your organisation but you haven’t realised it’s a communication problem? Are team members missing targets and deadlines. Is the business underperforming in one or more areas? Do you have to deal with ongoing and unresolved conflict? These may all be a sign you’ve got an underlying communication breakdown.
Transformation depends on defining the problem
If you don’t know the nature of the problem you can’t begin to make improvements. What are the symptoms of poor communication within your organisation. What is the impact it’s having on your business?
Who is identifying the problem?
How do you know communication is a problem?
Who feels like they are not being communicated with well?
Change begins with difficult conversations. Get feedback from different levels and departments about where they feel the weaknesses are. Be prepared to hear things that you might not like. Effective communication means engaging with people in a way that accomplishes your business goals. Employees who feel their voice is heard at work are more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.
When employees are informed and engaged, businesses perform better.
To improve your internal communication you need to begin by identifying what’s not working so well.
How effective is your internal communication? To improve your internal communication, you need to identify problem areas, set goals, and align them.
Communication is the central nervous system of your business. If your communication isn’t right your business will start exhibiting symptoms including poor business performance, reduced or slowed business growth, apathy, low staff morale, toxic behaviour, and increased absenteeism,
How well your company performs depends on how quickly you can adapt and execute your strategy. Your speed of execution depends on how well you internally communicate and work together as one streamlined company.
Quality not quantity
When it comes to communication, quality over quantity is what you should be going for. You are not only responsible for sending the message but also ensuring that it is understood. I once overheard a conversation during which one of the participants, who was particularly frustrated said “Look, I can explain this to you but I can’t understand it for you”. Actually, you are responsible for making sure your message is understood. Problems generally have more than one solution. If the message you are trying to get across isn’t landing you could consider adapting the way you deliver it.
When communication isn’t right people feel devalued
We all want to feel needed, accepted and that we belong in our personal relationships and at work. When people are cut out of the loop or excluded in communication they begin to feel unimportant to both the team and the organisation. How you communicate with your team can help you bring people together, increase engagement and make people feel like they have an important part to play. People who feel like they matter will work harder for you.
Get the balance right between feeling connected and information overwhelm
It is important to strike a balance between keeping people informed without feeling overwhelmed or that their time is being wasted. Bombarding people with information or over communicating is a time and energy drain nobody wants or benefits from.
Get clear on what you want to achieve and why
How will you know if communication has improved? Ask yourself “What is happening right now” and “What do we want to be happening instead” If you don’t have a clear vision or end goal, how will you be able to measure success?
Make the Mission and Vision Clear
Take the time to explain the company values and mission, whether as part of corporate training or as a regular reminder to employees. When employees are unified in their understanding of the company goals, they will be able to communicate with one another more effectively in order to reach them. Make sure your team knows and understands what you are trying to achieve and how important they are to the process.
Create Open Dialogue
Keep employees up-to-date on company changes, progress and future plans. Empower employees to be involved in the discussion. Encourage questions and comments, and demonstrate that all ideas are welcome. Employees are more likely to communicate well when they feel they have a part in where the company is headed. Rumours on the other hand can do untold damage and cost thousands.
Not only should communication be improved between team members who work together, but between employees and their managers. Make this a focus during management training programs. Managers who take the time to get to know their employees and are willing to listen to them will find it easier to communicate and keep their teams on task. When team members feel that managers are able to address their individual concerns, they are more likely to feel connected.
Good Communication Builds Teamwork. Great Communication Gets Results
Good communication builds good teams. Do you want “good” or do you want “great”? When team leaders are effective communicators, they inspire teams to reach for a common goal. They make sure everyone knows their responsibilities and how to perform them. With an open dialogue, team members are more likely to pitch in when others on the team need their help, and know when to ask for help in return.
You can prevent misunderstandings with good communication. Someone says something, and someone else takes offence. But when there’s open and honest communication, everyone’s on the same page. There may still be disagreements, but they are less likely to turn into problems when differences of opinion are given the outlet and respect they deserve.
Recognise and reinforce positive behaviours
Effective communication is a constant activity, and you should thank the other person for accommodating you. This is mutually beneficial, and it will keep the channels of communication open.
Be patient and don’t expect miracles.
Communication is so important — and so hard. It doesn’t completely eliminate differences, but it does allow for them. Ultimately, good business communication is not about winning; it’s about strengthening relationships.
Change doesn’t happen overnight.
Communication is a cultural issue. That’s where I come in. I help diagnose the problem, identify the desired position, and design and deliver a programme that makes the journey from “good” to “great”.
How well you communicate within your teams determines the performance of your organisation. I work with businesses to prevent the escalation of conflict, enhance corporate communication, and develop company cultures to facilitate a more productive working environment.
If this sounds like something your business could benefit from, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.