Effective business communication: Conversations for a more competitive company
Communication is a natural part of our everyday lives as human beings.
Connecting with other people is part of how we thrive and survive, particularly in a world of digital transformation. So, if communication is so organic, why is it so hard to maintain the right conversations?
In standard social settings, the wrong words or a poorly chosen tone leads to arguments, broken relationships and damaged friendships. In a workplace, a lack of effective business communication is even more detrimental. Employees that can’t communicate properly are unproductive, unmotivated and more likely to leave your business.
The trouble is, while countless companies focus on formulating the right messages for their target audience, business leaders often forget that great communication starts from within.
If you want your organisation to evolve, then you need to make some simple, but essential changes to your company culture.
The good news? We’re going to help kickstart your business communication solutions. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll understand the importance of effective business communication, and which elements you’ll need to put in place to help your company thrive.
What is effective business communication?
Let’s start with some basic questions:
“What is effective business communication,” and how do the right strategies help your company thrive?
The crucial elements of effective business communication, like regular feedback and the use of consistent industry terms, ensures that everyone in your organisation is operating on the same page. When everyone understands what your company stands for, what you’re trying to accomplish, and what they need to do, your business can run far more smoothly.
Although there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for reliable communication, most effective business communication techniques are defined by the following features, they are:
- Concise: In today’s fast-paced business world, it pays to get to the point quickly. Keep your messages clear and straightforward so that employees can act fast.
- Complete: Ensure that your messages include all the information your employees will need to finish tasks quickly and accurately.
- Conversational: Make sure that you get the tone right when communicating with employees. You want to encourage them to perform well, rather than barking orders at your team.
- Clear: With effective business communication, the faster you can make your point, the better. If your information is complicated or difficult to understand, then the result could be unnecessary confrontations or mistakes.
- Considerate: Make sure that your employees always have the opportunity to ask questions and get clarity on instructions they may not understand.
- Confidence: Confidence is one of the most essential characteristics of effective business communication. Your staff need to know that you know what you’re talking about.
- Checked: Ensure that you always double-check your data before passing information onto your team.
Why is effective communication important in business?
So, now you know the answer to “What is effective business communication?” It’s time to determine why the right messages matter to your company.
The importance of effective business communication is hard to overestimate. If your people can’t share ideas and understand each other, then they can’t accomplish your business goals. Communication is the foundation of your company’s growth. Without that initial structure in place, everything else will fall apart.
Here are just some of the most significant benefits of effective business communication:
- Builds and maintains relationships: Excellent communication in the workplace builds relationship between members of staff. The more comfortable your people feel working together, the better they’ll perform. Effective business communication can also create a relationship between your employees and your brand, improving your chances of employee advocacy.
- Improves creativity and innovation: In today’s fast-paced business environment, the companies that thrive are the ones that can come up with the latest, most exciting ideas. Just look at innovators like Virgin for instance. When people can communicate well, they can share and build ideas more easily for your brand. They’ll also feel more comfortable communicating those concepts to leaders, rather than keeping them to themselves.
- Greater productivity and purpose: Effective business communication isn’t just about encouraging people to talk in the workforce. It’s also a process of making sure that your staff understands what your brand stands for. When employees know your business values and mission, they feel a greater sense of purpose which helps to encourage productivity. Today’s employees, particularly those in the millennial generation, crave meaning from their jobs.
- Enhanced opportunities for brand growth: Lack of robust communication strategies can cause the collapse of any business. That might seem like a bold statement, but every member of your workforce needs to understand where the company is headed if they’re going to achieve your business targets. If everyone is working together on the same page, your chances of rapidly growing your company improve.
Bringing every member of your team together through a culture of effective communication and shared values transforms the average employee into a crucial component of your business evolution. The more advocates and ambassadors you have driving your organisation towards success, the greater your chances of long-term success become.
6 elements of effective business communication strategies
On the surface, achieving effective business communication seems simple enough.
Unfortunately, the truth is that it becomes harder to cultivate the right conversations every day. In a world of digital transformation, the internet has given us access to more opportunities for instant correspondence than ever before. While there are benefits to these numerous forms of communication, there are drawbacks too.
For instance, if your people have dozens of different ways to communicate, how do you make sure that everyone’s working on the same page? The key is to cultivate the essential elements of effective business communication strategies. Here are some of the components you’ll need to look at:
Today, brand transparency is crucial for any company. Your customers expect you to be honest about what you can offer them and attempting to sweep issues under the rug is a surefire way to damage your reputation. Of course, it’s not just your consumers that can head online and quickly find out the truth about your business; it’s your employees too.
Attempting to hide business problems could mean that your staff members start to worry about the security of their jobs with your company. When professionals begin to feel anxious, they look for chances to jump ship. Be transparent, even if that means sharing bad news from time-to-time.
2. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to control your own emotions and understand the feelings of others. A good ‘EQ’ is vital in any business situation because it reduces the risk of conflict between coworkers.
A useful way to promote emotional intelligence within your workforce is to set standards for how you expect your people to behave. Let workers know what kind of communication is unacceptable, and what should be celebrated. For instance, in-office bullies should face stern reprimands, while people who share ideas openly with the business should be rewarded.
3. Non-verbal communication
When examining the elements of effective business communication, companies must remember that verbal conversations aren’t the only method of sharing messages in the workplace. Body language can be just as important when ensuring a business can run smoothly. Business leaders need to be particularly cautious with their body language, as the way they hold themselves will affect the thoughts and feelings of other staff members.
Consider promoting better body language by asking business leaders to take part in training sessions, or be more aware of the way they hold themselves each day.
Whether you’re announcing something in a business meeting, or you’re sending out a company-wide newsletter, clarity is essential. Let your people know the purpose of your message up front and reiterate that purpose regularly throughout the conversation.
In the quest for clarity, it’s often best to avoid unnecessary jargon and industry speak, unless your audience is familiar with the words you’ll be using. Consider your target audience carefully when deciding which words to use, just as you would when creating marketing campaigns for your customers.
Great listening is one of the most critical elements of effective business communication, but it’s also something that many companies forget about. Aside from being able to convey important information to your target audience, you also need to be able to listen to people, understand their feedback and respond accordingly.
Your team members shouldn’t feel as though management is just talking at them. Make sure that your people have a way of responding back to you with Q&A sessions, pulse surveys and more. Communication is a two-way street.
In everyday life, communication can be as in-depth or concise as you like. However, in the business world, the trend toward agility has led to greater brevity in conversations. As we move forward into a workforce dominated by the younger generation, studies have already shown that millennials have very little patience.
To keep your business conversations running smoothly, make sure you only share the right messages with the right people and keep communication straight to the point. At the end of each sentence, ask yourself, “How does this help my employee?”
How to achieve effective business communication: Creating a plan
Effective business communication is no longer an optional advantage for companies, it’s crucial. A Salesforce study found that 86% of executives, educators, and employees consider inefficient communication to be the cause of workplace failures.
Something as simple as holding a business meeting when you could have achieved the same outcome with an instant message means you waste valuable time and resources. The importance of ensuring effective business communication is why it’s so crucial to create a plan for long-term success. Here are some tips for developing your plan.
1. Determine what you want to accomplish
If you manage to achieve effective business communication, how do you want it to affect your business? Are you hoping to improve your employer brand by showing how you nurture and support your teams? Do you want to enhance interaction between departments, or encourage greater company loyalty?
Knowing what you want to achieve from day one ensures that you can measure your progress throughout your new communication campaigns. For instance, if you’re going to transform your employees into advocates, you can track how many team members actively post positive things about your business on social media.
2. Know your audience
As mentioned above, the words and messages you use in your communication strategy will depend on the people you’re speaking to. While it’s fine to use technical jargon with your IT team, your sales team might be confused if you used the same wording with them.
Just as you would start your marketing campaigns with an overview of your consumer personas, make sure that you launch your business communication strategies with a thorough understanding of your audience. For instance:
- Corporate communication may require more statistics and graphs.
- Business-wide communication may need a broader, more accessible language.
- Communication with a specific team might require the use of particular industry terms.
Knowing your audience will also help to ensure that the information you share is compliant with any market regulations. For example, specific industries like the healthcare and finance niche require careful consideration of the information you can reasonably share with coworkers.
3. Establish business-wide terminology
While you’ll expect certain members of your staff to understand some terms more than others, some words are likely to appear in any conversation for any company. As a leader in your organisation, it’s up to you to determine what kind of terminology you’ll use to connect with your entire business. For instance, calling team members ‘associates’ instead of ‘employees’ can affect how they feel as part of your team. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are associates completing projects, or ‘deliverables’?
- Does your company have a ‘mission’ or a ‘vision’ or both?
- Are you a ‘superior’, a ‘boss’ or a ‘supervisor’?
- Do you attend ‘sessions’, ‘meetings’ or ‘huddles’?
Choosing the right terms for communication might not seem important at first, but it’s an essential part of ensuring clarity and maintaining a consistent employer brand.
4. Use the right tools
If the idea of achieving and maintaining effective business communication seems overwhelming, don’t panic. While strengthening business-wide communications can seem tough at first, there are plenty of tools available in the world today that can help to improve company conversations. For instance, we now have collaboration tools where people can share information and screens instantly, as well as video conferencing services for remote employees.
The critical thing to remember is that while the right tools can be useful, the wrong ones simply make communication more complicated. Spend some time tracking down the bottlenecks in your current communication strategy and find tools that solve employee problems, rather than creating more of them. For example, you might:
- Use cloud storage solutions to preserve important business data.
- Implement company chat software like Slack, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts.
- Use a single platform for all your emails, documents, and calendars.
Effective business communication techniques: 4 ways to upgrade
Effective business communication is vital for any company to operate smoothly. Unfortunately, many organisations struggle to keep conversations flowing in a complex work environment. While the internet has simplified communication in some ways, countless trends are making it harder for the right discussions to take place.
With 50% of the UK workforce set to work remotely by 2020, businesses now have to ensure that communication can happen among a globally-distributed community. If you’re struggling to keep your team connected in a complex work environment, these effective business communication techniques could help.
1. Be visual
In a world of employees desperate for clarity and agility in the workforce, sometimes the best way to stay connected isn’t with text. Studies have shown that more than 65% of the population are visual learners, which means that it’s easier for your team to understand infographics, pictures, and videos than text.
Consider supplementing your communications strategy with the following visual solutions:
- Send infographics and visual data through email and messages, rather than explaining a concept in-depth.
- Use digital signage software to display relevant information around the office, such as marketing metrics or breaking news.
- Entertain your employees with a highly-visual social media account packed with the latest business news.
2. Promote horizontal and vertical communication
For many companies, effective business communication relies on a well-structured chain of command. However, companies using this strategy must be aware of the potential drawbacks that a stringent vertical communication strategy can have. Be too tight with your business communication, and your employees may not feel comfortable sharing the ideas that would help your company to thrive.
In one study, researchers found that productivity increased by up to 30% when employees could use social tools and intranets to communicate with each other. Make sure that everyone in your team has ways to stay connected. Regular feedback from your employees will also help you to make sure that your communication strategy is as effective as it can be. Without regularly listening to your team, you’ll never know where and how you can improve.
3. Lead the way with the H.O.T framework
Remember, when you’re working on boosting effective business communication, it’s important to lead from the top down.
Employees generally follow the examples that leadership sets for them. As such, managers and supervisors need to set communication standards that they can stick to consistently when encouraging good work. For instance, you could consider using the H.O.T approach to outline the behaviours you want your people to demonstrate every day.
- H: Honest.
- O: Open.
- T: Two-Way.
This powerful methodology for business communication ensures that everyone operates on the same, shared understanding of what conversations should be like.
4. Don’t just inform: Inspire
Finally, remember that effective business communication isn’t just about ensuring that your people have the right information at the right time. Your business communication strategy is how you motivate, inspire, and involve your employees in your company’s growth.
When establishing the correct elements of effective business communications, ensure that everything you do eventually leads to action. For instance, you can do this by:
- Including calls-to-action in your internal content.
- Using business signage and motivational quotes to demonstrate corporate culture.
- Rewarding individuals for exceptional communication skills.
- Listening and responding to employee feedback.
Considering the characteristics of effective business communication
Countless companies are more than willing to pay a lot of money to engage consumers.
Whether you’re connecting with your customers through social media or blog posts, you know that you need to send the right messages, through the correct channels, at the proper times to get the right response. However, remarkably few companies put the same time and effort into improving their internal communication strategies.
Unfortunately, a poor understanding of effective business communications can lead to some severe problems for your workforce. In 2016, Gallup found that disengaged workers now outnumber engaged employees by a rate of 2 to 1. This demotivation has a serious impact on business performance, with some studies suggesting that disengaged workers achieve about half of the turnover of an engaged employee.
The only way to truly engage your workforce and make sure that your business is moving in the right direction is to focus on improving communication. The easier it is for your people to communicate effectively, the more they’ll be able to collaborate and support business outcomes.
What’s more, for specific industries, the right conversations can be crucial to protecting company compliance. This is often the case when it comes to business communication for financial services or healthcare organisations.
Are your business communication strategies effective enough, or is it time to go back to the drawing board? If you’re looking for help creating effective business communication techniques, reach out to Fabrik today.
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