Communication, in theory, means exchanging of information through means that are mutually understood. While it has been around since 500,000 BCE, it has evolved much since; from signs and symbols to the internet era now, we have come a long way.
Effective organizational communications are increasingly being attributed to the success or failure of a business or business unit. Employee engagement is the single most important thing for an organization, which if high, leads to increased productivity and profitability, and boosts employee morale. Yet, research from Gallup shows that only about 15% of the employees worldwide are engaged! According to Conference Board, disengaged employees could cost North American organizations over $450 billion dollars per year.
One of the biggest challenges within an organization is the lack of efficiency in communicating with employees and sharing information about the company – 74% of employees feel they are missing out on company information and news (Trade Press Services) and 72% of employees don’t have a full understanding of the company’s strategy (IBM). Other challenges include lack of efficient or adequate communication across multiple offices and locations; lack of clear direction from team leaders and a missing communication strategy.
While a lot of businesses struggle with their communications, there are some companies that are doing it exceptionally well. The likes of Google, Credit Karma and Netflix have mastered their internal communications, leading to phenomenal results not just in terms of profitability, but the overall development of their organization. Remember, effective internal communication is directly proportional to employee productivity, motivation, mental health, morale and engagement.
Now that we are on the same page about the importance of organizational communication, let’s take a look at how we can achieve it. If you are one of the “but we have always done it this way” kind of a company, this article might change the way you think.
Ways to create effective workplace communication
- Encourage two-way communication: Communication has got to be two-way. Period. There is no two ways about it (pun unintended). A lot of organizations tend to think of communication mainly as a way to inform employees about policies, company updates, rejigs, etc. As a leader, stepping up here and opening up opportunities for conversations, will benefit the team and company leaps and bounds. Learn about what your employees have to say. Are they happy? Overworked? Burned out? Are they facing struggles that stunt productivity and growth? These are must-ask questions (and must-know answers). This will also build loyalty, boost morale and will result in a productive and happy work environment.
- Listen, don’t just hear: “Leaders who do not listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.” – Andy Stanley. Listening is a skill that a lot of us struggle with. Paying attention when spoken to is the sincerest form of respect you could give someone. Often times at work, we find ourselves in the midst of back-to-back meetings, emails and phone calls, making us completely oblivious to our environment. If you are in a meeting with your team and are typing away on your laptop or cellphone, or if you are thinking about your next meeting, you are not paying attention. This is not only disrespectful, but highly detrimental to your team health and engagement, leading to frustration and lack of motivation. Put all the gadgets away and listen to what your colleagues have to say. Give the conversation your everything. Ask questions. Empathize and try to genuinely understand what is going on. Everything else will fall in place.
Create healthy work relationships: We spend most of our day at work, collaborating with our teammates on different levels. Positive and healthy relationships at work is largely determined by the company’s communication process. When senior executives are effective communicators, they are able to inform employees of their roles and responsibilities, comprehend their problems and are able to provide constructive feedback, resulting in smoother, better processes and healthier environment. Gallup found that sales increases by 20% when employees are actively engaged, and profitability increases by 21%. These are huge numbers and can literally make or break an organization. It is simple math – when employees are engaged, they are more productive, teams are stronger and workplace environment is healthier, automatically leading to increase in revenue, profitability and growth of an organization.
Manage conflicts appropriately: Workplace conflicts aren’t new or rare and have been around forever. It’s prevalent in the most successful organizations. However, what makes a difference is how these conflicts are resolved. Or in many cases, if they are resolved. Many leaders are uncomfortable and tend to avoid conflicts to stay out of unpleasant confrontations. But it is imperative for leaders and senior executives to have these difficult conversations with their teams, in an effort to resolve it and without taking sides. If these conflicts are avoided, leaders lose their position and respect with their teams.
“It’s important to make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” Barack Obama.
This quote couldn’t be more relevant. While avoiding conflicts is unacceptable, it is also necessary to pay attention to how you handle conflicts. The basics remain – be polite, be courteous, do not yell, do not swear or be condescending. In other words, be diplomatic. We need to understand that we are here to SOLVE the conflict and NOT bring down the other person. Get to the bottom of the issue and talk it out in an effort to find a solution. Remember, that’s your goal.
- Offer feedback: Both positive AND constructive. Yes, you read that right. According to a recent study by Zenger and Folkman asserted, not only the “Your work is great” and the “You are amazing” feedback but constructive feedback is just as crucial, and if delivered appropriately, it is considered to be extremely effective at improving performance. The same study also notes that not many like to give negative feedback, which isn’t surprising, but is necessary and reiterates the importance of communication. And quite frankly, our team members want it and want to know how they can improve and grow. So, go ahead and say it – the good, the bad and the ugly – but do so in a professional and polite manner.
Deriving the right communication strategy for your business can be daunting and overwhelming, but we assure you, that with the right kind of strategy and support, your organization can achieve successful internal communications. Lead With Passion has years of experience working with heads of various companies and teams, helping them build and execute successful communication strategies.
Whether you need a full-fledged plan or just discuss to understand more about what we do, you know that we are just a click away.
“Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.”