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”.