When did communication become a transaction rather than an interaction?
Communication should be a shared understanding between sender and receiver, and over time, some people seem to have lost their way. Instead of creating a mutual understanding to drive desired outcomes, too many people fire off messages regardless of how they may be received.
Also, advanced technology and the shift from in-person to hybrid work environments play a significant part in the disconnect between communication and successful outcomes. Ready for the scary part? U.S. businesses lose $1.2 trillion every year to unsuccessful communication practices!
Recognizing the consequences of ineffective communication and learning effective communication tools and practices helps leaders keep their top talent and ensures their business continues to grow.
The challenges of poor communication
Grammarly surveyed 251 business leaders and 1,001 knowledge workers in the US to find out what is getting in the way of collaboration and productivity.
What was the root problem? Ineffective communication!
The majority of knowledge workers (86%) reported spending half their workweek (20 hours!) experiencing communication issues, including:
- Not receiving timely responses from others
- Communicating clearly, so receivers understand the message
- Understanding messages received
- Keeping up with the frequency of communication
- Identifying the proper tone to use in messages
- Choosing the right platform or tool for communication
- Difficulty understanding next steps or responsibilities
Business leaders believe that they and their teams spend too much time and energy resolving miscommunications every week. By spending too much time on miscommunications, business leaders shuffle around to manage negative consequences instead of helping their team pave a path forward and work together.
Consequences of ineffective communication
Where does all the lost time go?
It's spent resolving communication issues, addressing mistakes caused by misunderstandings, and following up on unmet deadlines and deliverables. Activities like these can take up to 19% of your team’s workweek. However, the time is lost, not free. Businesses risk losing as much as $47.37 per employee each day due to poor business communication–that’s $12,506 per employee a year!
The price only skyrockets when you consider that the time lost could have been put to use in more productive areas. Instead of closing new deals and enhancing the client experience, leaders find themselves losing business from unmet deadlines and unsatisfied clients.
These consequences are interconnected and can make you feel like you’re in a negative feedback loop. Imagine you are finally back on track and starting a new project. What if you have difficulty understanding your next steps or responsibilities due to poor communication? You’re back to stage one: resolving communication issues and trying to understand what to do next!
Quit resolving problems and start implementing solutions
Organizations need to proactively manage ineffective communications and implement practices to increase the amount of time spent communicating effectively. Try these strategies to get your team on the same page:
- Consider your tone and timing: What you are saying and how you say it is important. Create a culture around communication, set guidelines to nurture empathy and emotional intelligence, and build awareness of tone and timing. Once you do this, you’ll help your company and team members communicate better.
- Curate and clarify communication channels: There are various ways to communicate internally. To do this, define the purpose of each channel so your team can quickly identify the most appropriate channel for their message. When you strategically organize your tech tools, teams streamline and enable better communication.
- Understand your audience: Everyone has a different kind of communication style. If you have a coworker who needs a lot of information, communicate with more detail and instruction. If another person experiences information overload often, be clear and concise in your messaging.
- Be attentive: Someone may seem like they’re listening, but listening and paying attention are not the same thing. Often, people overlook this simple tip, but it’s all about actively listening and staying attentive when interacting with others.
- Be clear: Clarity is the most critical part of effective communication. While speaking or writing, be clear about what you want to convey. However, there’s always the possibility someone will still not understand, so encourage your team to ask questions to ensure shared understanding.
- Empower those in the middle: Your middle managers are the messengers throughout your organization, so empower them with effective communication strategies. This will equip them to deliver consistent messages and provide answers to any emerging questions or needs. Also, hold regular meetings to provide updates or information they can share with their teams. When your managers are in the know, you’ll notice more consistency and less misinformation.
Business communication is the backbone of your company’s ability to innovate, collaborate, perform, and achieve successful outcomes. It is an exchange that takes up a lot of time and energy from your team’s workweek; therefore, it’s essential to have solid communication!
When you practice and implement effective communication in your company, you are not merely cleaning up processes and removing friction. You become a leader that can manage the present, handle the unpredictable, and sustain a talented team that will help you pave a path to a brighter future.
Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners
Photo by bowie15