BUSINESS & LIFE: The Importance of Effective Communication for Business Success

Dr. Valda Henry
Dr. Valda Henry

This week we look at the Importance of Effective Communication for Business Success.  From my experience working with businesses throughout the region, ineffective or poor communication is one of their key challenges.   I liken communication to the oil that keeps the engine of our vehicles working effectively.  Just imagine if you drove your vehicle with no oil.  What would happen?  Yes, you are right, the engine would seize and that vehicle, no matter how beautiful, how expensive and how much you love it, it would not drive.  You would have to purchase a new engine, and in some cases a new car.  The similar things happen in a company where communication is ineffective, no matter the size of the company, the beauty of its building, the poise and knowledge of its employees.  If communication were ineffective, this organisation would not be performing at its optimal level.   This is why I say, “communication is the oil that keeps the engine of the organisation working effectively.”

Think of your workplace.  Do you know what the company’s vision and mission are?  Do you know and understand your role in achieving the company’s goals? Do you know what the major initiatives for the next quarter are?  Do you know how the company is performing financially?  How do you know what is happening in the company?  Is it from the grapevine?  Is it from sources outside the organisations?  Did you or do you hear of initiatives from the media? Do you communicate freely what you think and feel with respect to the business to your supervisor or manager?  Do you share your views on enhancements and improvements? How does information flow in the organisation and between departments?   Do you understand where I am going with this?

A study by Watson Wyatt in 2009 found that effective internal communication was one of the drivers of performance especially in difficult economic times.  Companies that were effective communicators, have the courage to talk about what employees want to hear, redefine the employment deal based on changing business environment and have the discipline to plan and measure their progress effectively. 

“Courage, innovation and discipline help drive company performance especially in tough economic times”, claims Watson Wyatt (2009). Courage to tell employees as it is; the good and the bad news for employees are the first to know or sense how the company is doing.  After all, they are at the frontline.  And while managers often think that employees only see the money that is made and not the expenses, employees are not as naïve as managers believe.  Managers usually are afraid to tell employees the truth, especially when things are going bad but Watson and Wyatt found that when you tell employees what they need to know, they reward you with solid performance. 

Innovation should be ongoing.  Employees according to Baldoni (2009) should be encouraged to rethink processes, streamline job tasks, implement productivity measures and continue to think creatively.

Companies need to set direction and take stock of how well they are doing.  They need to hold people to account, and this is even more important in difficult times.  This is consistent to what I say, “without accountability, there is no performance”.  They state that often plans are not communicated effectively and employees are given direction without context.  They know what to do and not why.  I have found that on some of my assignments and in interaction with employees as a customer.   They know what to do but cannot explain why they do what they do.   It is as if they have learnt by rote what to do and not told why and have not ventured to find out why.  Watson Wyatt argues, the “why” is important if you want to stimulate engagement, that is, connect to employees’ hearts and minds.

Watson Wyatt study revealed that companies that communicate effectively had a 47% higher return to shareholders over a five year period from mid 2004 – mid 2009 and concluded, “Effective internal communication can keep employees engaged in the business and help companies retain key talent, provide consistent value to customers and deliver superior financial performance to shareholders” (quoted from Baldoni, 2009). 

This week we looked at the importance of Effective Communication, next week we will examine the elements of effective communication.  Until we meet again, may God Keep Us in the Palm of His Hands.

Valda Frederica Henry, VF Inc.’s CEO and Principal Trainer is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR), Certified Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) Practitioner, holds a PhD in Industrial Relations & Business, a Masters in Business Administration and a BSc Management Studies. VF Inc. is a Human Resource & Finance Consultancy firm with a Training and Recruitment arm, and the producer and host of a live TV program “The Cutting Edge of Business”.

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8 Comments

  1. Basetsana Modise
    March 20, 2016

    Effective communication also helps to know what impression does your communication style make on members of your group or employees.

  2. Anonymous
    May 28, 2013

    Communication is definitely key! It is essential to business in every form, as wel as online. Succeeding online is, in fact, super easy…and a large part of the reason why this is the case is the simple fact that so many people still think it is difficult! This leaves very little TRUE competition, when it comes to online marketing success. Once you understand the core, basic principles, it becomes a piece of cake.

  3. May 27, 2013

    Communication is necessary to create strong alliances with people who can provide a positive contribution to knowledge and experience to make the business stronger.

  4. ROSEAU VALLEY
    May 27, 2013

    This is an excellent piece. In fact the topic could aptly be, “The Importance of Effective Communication’ PERIOD as the same principles apply to society, communities, organizations, families, churches and are especially crucial for effective governance in a democratic society.

    We see where Dr Henry is going with this.

    Effective Communication is important all around and this seem to be a key challenge for our government, which appear to have ran out of good communication oil to keep its propaganda engine working. Effective communication has always been one of the key drivers for high performance, especially in difficult economic times. The lack of effective communication is a sure sign of ineffective performance. The lack of this oil could well result in the seizure of a government/political vehicle, no matter how much money it may have to run a successful elction campaign.

    Dr Henry is right, “communication is the oil that keeps the engine of the organisation working effectively.” Think of our government.

    The government’s message no longer resembles the reality our governance. This vehicle has been stalled by the continuous impact of the corroding effect of the waters of corruption that has undermined/compromise the engine. The foundation is now weak and wobbly and like the situation in the road in Pond Case, many people are falling in. Soon Dominicans will realize that we need a new vehicle and more importantly a new driver to continue the journey of socio-economic development.

    – What is the relationship of the government to the media? When last we had a real press conference with the PM and members of his cabinet? How effective is the GIS, The Upper Level programme, the Heng and other such programmes that advance the government propaganda?

    Is our government performing at its optimal level? Do you know what are the government’s true vision and mission? Do you know and understand the role of our government in achieving the socio-economic prosperity, increasing employment, trade, industry and better foreign relations? Do you know what the major initiatives for the next, month, quarter, year and term of the government are. If so, should this be the country’s priority areas of focus?

    Do we really know how the country is performing financially/economically, considering the low productivity, low export/trading, high debt included unrecorded Petro Caribe debt etc? How do we as citizens know what is happening in the country when everything, including the marriage of our PM (a public figure) is a secret affair and secrecy is the order of the day? Why is more information reaching the citizenry from talk shows and grapevine rather than through official channels? Do our government officials communicate freely? Why are ministers of gov’t so afraid to speak to the media or those popular media houses where they know they will be seriously questioned?

    Trust you get where we are with this?

    Respectfully
    Roseau Valley

    • ROSEAU VALLEY
      May 27, 2013

      A government that is effective in communicating its plans, goals, objectives, actions, results and even mistakes will progress and the contrary is also true. A government that is courageous to talk about what the citizenry wants and need to know and to admit its mistakes will do well.

      However, to achieve this, the government must appreciate the value of truth in politics and must have the courage, innovative spirit and discipline to resist corrupt practices in advancing the ideals of reaching the next level of performance especially in tough economic times.

      Government must have the courage to tell its citizens the truth. Stop lying! As Arley Gill said, Government must be honest, transparent and accountable. It has to be bold enough to tell the people both the relative good and the bad news so that we have a fair idea of how the country is doing at all times. After all, this is our country. It does not belong to the politicians, the citizenry is not naïve as the government would want to think because of a historical 18-3 election result……a balance sheet representation of political assets as at a point in time in December 2009.

      Our government cannot be afraid to tell us the truth, especially when things are going terribly bad. In keeping with what Dr Henry, Watson and Wyatt found, when you tell people the truth and what they need to know, they will reward you with solid performance.

      You get where we are with this?
      Respectfully
      Roseau Valley

  5. VSU Graduate
    May 27, 2013

    Excellent……

  6. Having my Say
    May 27, 2013

    This is so relevant in Dominica. I hope company bosses and their employees take heed. Employers in general here in Dominica do not empower their staff, so it’s no wonder they would not be able to answer the questions about their company that you posed. Thank you for the article.

  7. Anonymous
    May 27, 2013

    Well said Valda.

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