When you're managing a business, chances are communication is a huge part of your day. You're communicating constantly and with many people, both internally and externally. However, communicating is not the same as communicating well.
A quality workplace communication system is key to business success. It allows for better employee management and improves engagement and retention. According to a study by the Engagement Institute, disengaged employees cost US companies up to $550 billion a year.
Since effective communication is crucial for a successful business, it's up to you to improve it within your organisation. Its effectiveness can be influenced by many things, including how actively you listen to what people say, promote understanding and rapport within the office, and whether you use proper leadership to get things done.
Understanding business communication
Communication is the glue that holds all the pieces of your business together. This can only be achieved if you execute strong communication.
To promote good business communication, you need to focus on more than just your written emails or verbal conversations with the staff. There are four main methods of business communication:
- Verbal communication – using voice to share opinions, convey ideas, or simply say something. Examples of this include in-person conversations, but also phone calls and virtual meetings.
- Nonverbal communication – any message we send through our behaviours, whether it is intended or not. This includes body language, attire, gestures, and facial expressions.
- Written communication – the information we deliver through written words including emails, memos, letters, reports, and other forms of written documentation.
- Visual communication – the use of visuals to send a message or clarify an idea. Some examples are charts, infographics, videos, and maps.
You cannot build quality rapport and promote good workplace communication if you fail to consider any of these four methods. For example, you might say something verbally, but your body language could be telling an entirely different story.
If you want to improve communication in your business, you need to work on all communication methods.
Why is communication important for your business?
Communication is an essential tool for your business strategies, regardless of the size or nature of your business. Your people will help you achieve your goals. Without proper communication, you cannot motivate them to join forces with you to achieve your common goals. Internal communication builds strong relationships within the company, encourages collaboration and teamwork. It also prevents conflicts and misunderstandings and advances individual career prospects.
How to improve communication in your company
Now that we've established why communication should be one of your priorities, let's take a look at the most effective ways to improve it in the workplace.
1. Make information easily accessible
Sharing information with your employees is required to manage day-to-day. There is lots of company data to be shared every day pertinent to its operations. Such data includes:
- Mission statements and plans for the business
- Tasks assigned to specific employees or teams
- Branding documents and style guides
- Operational processes and workflows
- Tutorials, manuals, and other training materials
The list can include other information that plays a critical role in your business operations. This is why your task is to make important information readily available and easily accessible to all concerned parties. For this purpose, you need quality knowledge base software that allows you to keep things running smoothly.
Tech Target defines this as: ''Knowledge base software is a machine-readable resource for the dissemination of information, generally online or with the capacity to be put online''.
By choosing and using proper knowledge base software, businesses can optimise the collection, organisation, and implementation of information.
2. Leverage technology for communication
Before technology was widely available, business struggled to share crucial information. Some information never reached the intended recipients. It wasn't possible to send an email requesting something after people had left the office. Documentation was far from easily spread – or stored.
Today, technology has made communication much more accessible and easier to share than before. This has been proven in the last 12 months. Technology has stepped up and connected people during the pandemic. People have had the option of working at home, using various communication software options to keep the business running.
Modern, successful businesses needs to leverage the power of technology for communication by using all the available means of getting in touch with employees. It promotes internal communication, professional contact, as well as expedient sharing of important data.
To be more, you can use technology to better communicate with people – even when you do it in person. How? People respond much better to visual content, especially when you're sharing complex information with them. This is why leaders use presentations, images, videos, and infographics – to better communicate with their people.
That being said, you should try and polish your presentation skills and use technology to visualise your meetings. Modern tools and websites make this easier than ever. Check these process infographic templates and use them to turn complex processes into bite-sized information for your next staff meeting.
3. Promote direct communication
Direct communication is the basis of a healthy workplace. And yet, many organisations minimise direct communication. Leaders don't 'keep their doors open' to employees and insist on email contact. Employees don't communicate with each other, all cooped in their offices with minimal human contact.
We all know how easy it can be to send emails and messages via social media or make a phone call instead of arranging an actual meeting in person. While this is helpful and saves a lot of time, technology has minimised, if not eliminated direct communication in many workplaces.
Technology does wonders for spreading information and is hugely beneficial in terms of speed. However, people need direct human contact to better understand the tasks, get motivation, and build a connection. According to Ubiquity, 93% of effective communication is made through tonality and body language. Words make for only 7%.
This is why more and more companies opt for teamwork, schedule weekly or monthly meetings in person, and try to create more opportunities for their employees to communicate. Unless you promote direct communication in the workplace, people won't feel free to share their opinions, come to you with concerns, and their work at your office will be dull and impersonal.
4. Understand and respect diversity
Not every person who works at the organisation will share the same ideas or opinions. They won't have the same approach toward the job. This doesn't mean they are inefficient or inept. If you have a fair hiring process and want the best for your business, you will have a diverse team of employees. They'll be of different ages, have different preferences, and may even come from different cultures.
Communicating with everyone in the same way can backfire. You need to be careful and take into consideration diversity in your workplace. Having a diverse workforce means some things can be interpreted in different ways. Some words and phrases are understood differently by different cultures.
Even non-verbal communication can be tricky. For example, the peace signal has a good connotation in most countries, but for Australians it has a very different, offensive meaning.
All this means that to have healthy communication in a diverse workplace, you need to understand the different cultures in your workplace. Promoting diversity does wonders for the success of a business, but only if you respectfully communicate with people who work for it.
5. Be a great listener
You cannot be a good communicator if you aren't a good listener. This is not easy, especially when you have a sizeable workforce, most of which are your subordinates.
Listening to people does not mean you have to act on their ideas. But it doesn't mean that you should be deaf to their thoughts, ideas, and complaints either. Being a leader does not make you almighty (or at least it shouldn't).
Even if you're the most qualified and experienced person around, chances are that people will have different ideas or perspectives to you. At times, their perspective can help you come up with a great solution or be the solution to your problems.
You also need to listen to people for opportunities to make them more productive. Why? If you create an open relationship where staff feels free to complain, share thoughts, and discuss ideas with you, you'll better understand their work and evaluate the success of your business.
In turn, you can use that information to improve your communication, motivate them further, and tackle the issues you weren't aware of. And of course, quality communication promotes strong work relationships, so you can expect higher retention and happier teams.
Does your business promote quality communication? It can lead everyone in the same direction and help you reach your goals faster and more effectively. If you haven't done so already, start working on these five methods as soon as possible.
Copyright 2021. Article was made possible by site supporter Nadica Metuleva, Skale.