The Role of Effective Communication

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Effective communication skills and strategies help businesses in many ways. A manager who communicates effectively with employees generates a more engaged workforce. Organizations that bring managers from different departments together regularly help keep silos from forming. Being able to express a company's vision and value proposition can motivate stakeholders within and outside the company, and win customers in the marketplace. And in times of crisis, a well-executed communications strategy can speed recovery -- while a poor approach may only make the situation worse.

Avoiding Silos

One key to organizational development is to communicate across departments. The tendency in some companies is to communicate exclusively with others on the same team, or at the same managerial level. These silos can focus workers on pleasing their own constituencies rather than the company as a whole, and inhibit information-sharing.

Effective business communication discourages the formation of silos by fostering interactions between teams. Regular meetings between representatives from each division that require attendees to update the group on current projects and data can refocus everyone on the big picture. In addition, creating a unified vision for the company, with common goals that everyone commits to striving for, can help coordinate decision-making across departments by stressing how everyone has to work together to reach those heights.

Communicating With Employees

A big part of an executive or manager's job is communicating effectively with employees. Managers must ensure that their staff have the information they need to perform their duties, are kept abreast of relevant company news, and know what's expected of them as individuals. Similarly, employees may need to be reminded about your vision for the business, particularly in stretches where sales are disappointing. A combination of techniques -- such as group meetings, regular one-on-one conversations and informal communications -- can help workers feel engaged with their job and with the company; and the ability to motivate can make the difference between retaining key staffers or having them leave. Acknowledging the value that employees offer, whether it's with a formal quarterly award ceremony or a simple email documenting good work, can also have a large impact on a worker's job satisfaction.

Tip

  • A Gallup workplace survey found that employee engagement was highest when there was some form of daily communication with their manager. Moreover, employees with managers who hold regular meetings with them were three times more likely to say they felt engaged than those with managers who did not hold meetings regularly.

Influence in the Marketplace

A business owner has to be able to communicate effectively to both his employees and his customers in order to grow. You may be an expert in your field and know exactly how your new product meets a critical need -- but unless you can translate that into language the marketplace understands, that expertise won't lead to sales.

Training Opportunities

The need to communicate information to critical stakeholders can push some people outside their comfort zone. For example, a computer security expert may be adept at protecting systems from hackers -- but utterly terrified of having to explain to the company's board of directors what measures are needed to further keep its data safe. Offering training opportunities for communications -- whether in formal courses, brown-bag sessions or via groups like Toastmasters -- can help everyone get more comfortable expressing themselves, and ensure that information is communicated more efficiently.

When a Crisis Arises

Communicating in times of crisis can be especially challenging; but it also plays a key role in how a business emerges from unfortunate events. Coming up with an effective crisis communications plan in advance minimizes the confusion once it's actually needed, and ensures that stakeholders know who is authorized to speak for the company and how the business will determine what they say. Honesty and transparency can help build trust from a skeptical audience.

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