Effective Communication in Difficult Times
In his widely referenced article "The Cost of Poor Communications," leading communications consultant David Grossman points to a survey involving 400 businesses, each with 100,000 employees. Each surveyed business reported an average loss of $62.4 million per year stemming from poor communication.
The costs associated with poor communication are both direct and indirect, and include:
- Job dissatisfaction.
- Decreased productivity.
- Low morale.
- Distrust toward management.
- Lack of engagement.
- Rapid turnover.
Here are three communication strategies to help you mitigate these risks.
Leverage appropriate communication channels
In today's digitized business world, in addition to face-to-face and phone communications, there's:
- Shared online workspaces.
- Web-based meetings.
- Community websites.
- Online messaging.
- Social media sites.
Rather than try to fit all of them into your communication strategy, identify which ones are ideal for your business activities. Some communication methods will need to be standardized, such as those pertaining to new hire processes. Others can be approached in a more individualized way, based on how your people prefer to communicate.
The trick is to determine which communication mediums are likely to promote efficiency, which ones are likely to reduce misinterpretation, and which ones are likely to be welcomed by the recipients.
It's not uncommon for one communication channel to serve multiple purposes, which is why it's important to focus on the capabilities of the channels rather than the quantity.
Also, as an employer, you're required by law to give your employees specific employment-related information. Make sure you're transmitting the information as legally mandated.
Avoid making assumptions
As humans, we're prone to making assumptions about people and situations. But in the workplace, we should try to temper this inclination, as assumptions can lead to narrow-mindedness and poor decision-making.
For instance, a manager who jumps to conclusions while attempting to resolve a conflict between employees runs the risk of communicating (and acting on) false information. This can upset employees and damage team morale.
To become a trusted leader, you must communicate based on facts and objective observations. If you're not sure about something, seek clarification from valid sources.
Don't shy away from difficult conversations
In business, conversations run the gamut — from relaxed to matter-of-fact to challenging. While you may want to sidestep the challenging ones (because they can be awkward or stressful), your ability to navigate hard conversations is what will set you apart from run-of-the-mill communicators at work.
Difficult conversations may arise during compensation negotiations, performance reviews, grievance resolutions, stakeholder meetings, hiring and termination.
Instead of dismissing or fearing these discussions, approach them rationally. Identify the reason for the conversation and engage in active listening to get a full understanding of the sender's message. Acknowledge nonverbal cues, collaborate with the necessary individuals to find solutions and follow up to gauge the efficacy of those solutions.
If applied properly, the above three tips will help you take the lead in effective communication at your workplace.