Businesses without effective communication are highly dysfunctional. Despite this, so many businesses are still getting communication wrong, as these stats show:
- 39% of surveyed employees believe people don’t collaborate enough in their organization
- 86% of employees and executives blame workplace failures on ineffective communication
- 75% of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as important, yet only 18% are evaluated on communication
- The cumulative cost of productivity loss through communication barriers is a huge $25,000 per-worker per-year
Effective communication is the key to whether a business succeeds or fails. Without communication, there would be no understanding between individuals.
How would we encourage our team members to achieve their goals? How would we share ideas with senior management? And how would we communicate the company’s vision in team meetings?
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most effective communication methods, and why you need to make them work in your business.
Communication in the Workplace: What is it?
Before we can communicate effectively as a business, we must first learn what workplace communication is. Simply put, communication in the workplace is the exchange of information between two or more employees.
For a company to achieve its desired goals, all employees within it need to communicate well. When a team communicates well, it is able to work collaboratively towards a common goal, as opposed to a team of individuals working alone to achieve their personal objectives.
4 Methods of Communication
There are several types of communication that you can adopt in the workplace, and this next section will focus on the four main methods:
Verbal communication is arguably the most common form of communication in businesses – and accounts for all the words we exchange verbally with our team members and clients. This includes any words exchanged in general conversation, a group presentation, video conference, face-to-face meeting, and on the phone.
The effectiveness of verbal communications is dictated by a number of things such as the clarity of speech used, the tone of voice of the person speaking, and the types of words that are being used. There’s a degree of reliance on the person – or people – receiving the communication being a good listener, too.
Any information we share with our team members through the written word can be classed as written communication. It can be said that this communication method is the most common in the workplace, encompassing everything from traditional pen and paper through to e-mail, instant messaging, documents, web pages, and blogs.
When it comes to written communication, we must appreciate that the person we’re trying to communicate with doesn’t have the benefit of being able to see our emotions. As a result, we must pay special attention to our language in order to convey our intended message, otherwise, we risk it being misunderstood.
One of the main advantages of written communication is that it can often be accessed again and referred back to at a later date. That way, the messages that are communicated are more permanent and long-lasting than ones expressed verbally. For example, you can always refer back to an email, or make a copy of a document to look at later.
Non-verbal communication is the information we communicate through our bodies. This can be a hand gesture, like waving to a colleague; body language, like closing yourself off by folding your arms during a conversation; or a facial expression, like a frown.
Most non-verbal communication is done with a purpose, but unfortunately, we may communicate in a non-verbal way unintentionally from time to time. An example of this could be a lack of eye contact when a team member is talking to you. Some people are naturally poor at eye contact and don’t even know they’re looking away or through someone. To the person trying to communicate, they could see this as a lack of interest on your part.
Another form of communicating with others is through visual communication. This refers to any information transmitted through illustrations, signs, graphs, drawings, and charts. The effectiveness of this form of corporate communication depends not just on the quality of the visual material, but the individual receiving it too.
That’s because all individuals within a workplace learn differently from one person to the next. So while a bar chart might work for one project manager, other team members might benefit from seeing the same message communicated in a graph.
Barriers of Communication: What to Look Out For
How we choose to convey information in the workplace determines its effectiveness, and how it translates when it is received by a team member. If the information isn’t communicated properly, it can prevent the intended recipient from understanding it. When this happens, it’s typically because of a barrier in communication. This next section will detail exactly what these barriers are so you can overcome them in your business.
Physical Barriers Can Separate Project Teams
Physical barriers tend to be solely down to the layout of your work environment. This could be partitions between working spaces, different departments operating in separate areas, or a closed door to a manager’s office.
When we cannot see people, it can be difficult to communicate well, particularly verbally – as it’s impossible to pick up on body language and emotion. When these physical barriers appear, it can be intimidating to break them down – especially if it requires you to knock on a manager’s door or enter an unfamiliar area of the office in order to communicate.
Pay Attention to Emotional Barriers
Emotional barriers tend to be put up when there’s a lack of trust in an organization. When people fear the person they’re communicating with – or simply don’t trust them – every conversion they approach with them will be seen as negative and often approached with a completely closed mind.
Recognizing Language Barriers is Crucial for Distributed Teams
A barrier in language often happens when people use jargon, unfamiliar expressions, and company-specific abbreviations. These language barriers can often occur when more experienced team members are communicating with newer members of the company.
Why do you need a strong communication strategy?
As we discovered in the introduction to this article, effective communication strategies determine whether a business sinks or swims – which we can also translate to: makes money, or doesn’t make money. After all, effective communication helps give clear instructions to team members, or it could form part of a pitch that secured a multi-million dollar contract with a client.
Done correctly, it can also help all team members build strong relationships and breed a positive company culture throughout the entire organization. A good company culture, one where everyone is on the same page and communicating effectively, promotes collaboration and productivity which ultimately leads to a business achieving its goals.
8 Communication Strategies That Will Improve Your Workplace Communication
There are a number of communication strategies a business could adopt in order to ensure effective communication in their organization. In this next section we’ll focus on 8 of the main methods:
Make Use of Communication Tools for Better Project Management
There has been a huge rise in the need for effective communication channels since remote work has become more common within businesses. With this has come an increase in the use of collaboration software to act as a central hub for an entire team to organize and track their tasks. A team leader can also use the software to check the project status of a job or distribute work to remote team members.
Messaging apps have become a vital addition to a business’ collection of communication tools, too. Companies like Messagenius offer organizations a private, secure app that allows team members to communicate through instant messaging.
Another obvious communication channel is e-mail. Every employee is usually given a personal company email address on the first day in a job, and it remains a convenient and easy way to communicate with team members – whether they’re located in the office or remotely.
Meet With Your Team Members More Often
Regular meetings with your team are not only an effective communication strategy, but it’s one that’s easy to implement, too. Whether you choose face-to-face meetings, a team video conference, or a one-on-one, communicating with your team regularly is a great way to build trust and make them feel more valued.
In turn, this will increase information flow, allow for them to provide more input in projects and help to improve company culture.
An Effective Communication Strategy Recognizes Achievements
Whether you’re a business owner, senior manager, or team leader, it’s so important to recognize the achievements of your team members if you are to improve communication. Although a gift voucher or bonus will always be welcomed by a member of staff who has achieved a personal or team goal, recognition – communicated publicly – is a much more rewarding way for a team member to be recognized.
This form of recognition will not only make them feel rewarded and valued, but it’ll increase staff retention and boost performance at the same time.
Stay Consistent with Your Communication Plan
When you communicate a consistent message in all forms of your communication – a message that is fully aligned with the vision and goals of your company – everyone will find it much easier to understand where they fit into the bigger picture of the organization.
One of the best ways to do this is to always explain the ‘why’ when you’re communicating. When you do this, everyone in the team will better understand the reason behind the decision your or the company is making, which helps build trust between you, your team, and the company, and improves team spirit at the same time.
Get Feedback From Your Team
It’s important that when you’re communicating with your team, you seek input from them on how you are doing as a manager. Although any constructive feedback on your personal performance – particularly from someone that’s not your senior – can often be a difficult conversation, it is hugely beneficial.
Two-way communication, where you’re receiving feedback as well as providing it, leads to greater trust between you and your staff. It will make them feel valued and like their opinions and ideas are appreciated – and they’ll be more likely to share ideas with you in the future.
Don’t Stick to One Mode of Communication
When you’re working on a strong communication strategy, it’s important to use a variety of methods of communication. When you use different modes, like experimenting with audio and visual cues, conveying more emotion in your voice, or being more expressive in your face, it can improve the way your information is received. For example, while the message you’re trying to communicate would work in an email, it could work much better conveyed verbally where your emotion and body language are on display.
Note Your Key Discussion Points
Before you communicate any information with others, particularly verbally, it’s a good idea to make note of the important messages you want to communicate beforehand. That way, nothing can get missed.
It also means that you can send out a follow-up message to our team highlighting the key points that were discussed in the meeting, and these can be referred back to anytime so no information gets lost.
Learn to Use Small Verbal Comments
During any form of verbal communication, there are small verbal comments that are a great way to let the speaker know you are listening. Comments like “uh-huh” and “ahh” will encourage the speaker to continue with what they have to say.
3 Benefits of a Solid Communication Strategy
A Positive Working Environment
An effective verbal communication strategy helps employees feel much more connected to the work they’re doing and the business they work for – improving morale and productivity in the process.
When more within an organization is high, it can lead to an improvement in employee engagement, a much better customer experience for your clients, and bigger profits for your company.
Improvement in Productivity
Poor communication strategies in the workplace lead to a number of issues, like bad work habits, missed deadlines, and a misinterpretation of what is being expected. On the flip side, when effective communications strategies are used well, employees know exactly what their role is and provide the company with their best work, delivered on time.
A More Innovative Team
When a team is encouraged to communicate more openly in the workplace it gives employees a platform to share their ideas. Even if you’re presented with what looks like a poor suggestion, it’s a great idea to try and make it work, even if it means tweaking the idea a little.
This leads to an open forum where team members have the confidence to share their unique and potentially profitable ideas with the company.
It is clear to see that effective communication strategies within an organization have a huge impact on its success. Whether it’s a casual conversation by the water cooler, a quarterly performance review, or a client pitch, every aspect of your chosen mode of communication must be carefully considered if the information we are trying to convey is to be understood clearly.
There are so many tools available to us now that it can often be difficult for large businesses to know exactly how to achieve and maintain the best communication channels within their organization. The rise of remote work has also changed the way we can communicate with our employees. It’s not always an option to communicate verbally with team members, and instead, managers are now looking to instant messaging apps as a way of staying in touch with their staff and managing them from afar when they’re not in the office.
One of the fastest and most secure ways for a large business to do this is through a communication tool like Messagenius. Messagenius is a secure, smart, and integrated messaging app that allows for a workforce to stay connected when working together to achieve their common goal.
What is the Most Important Type of Communication?
While there are many different types of communication, listening is certainly one of the most important skills we can use. Listening helps you develop relationships with your colleagues, understand others, and build trust.
How can a Manager Improve Their Communication Skills?
It’s important for a manager to always be present and available to their team. It’s also a good idea to get to know your target audience when you’re communicating, too. And remember to seek feedback from others to ensure you are always learning and developing.
What is Grapevine Communication?
Grapevine communication often refers to communication that flows outside of the recommended structure. It’s often described as informal, casual, and unofficial.
How Can Good Communication Help with Project Management?
Good communication sees information successfully conveyed from one person to another. So when this is done effectively, it can help with project management by ensuring everyone is on the same page, they can work collaboratively, and everyone knows their role in the project.
What are some specific examples of Barriers to Communication?
Although they can be categorized as physical, emotional, and language, specific examples include paying a lack of attention to the speaker, different viewpoints on a subject matter, or physical disabilities such as hearing problems.