By Scott Sargent
No matter the size of an organization, with the speed of information today, small problems or misunderstandings can quickly go from a few drops of lost productivity to become a costly flood. A good communications leader can have a positive effect on areas such as culture, productivity and ultimately, the success of your business.
According to Gallup’s announcement in August 2018, employee engagement in the U.S. was at 34%, its highest level since 2000. Still, actively disengaged made up 13% and 53% are in the “not engaged” category. Not exactly inspiring.
Leaders who possess strong communication skills will find managing, motivating and delegating to their people far easier. As David Lod, CEO of VEERUM states, “Company wide communication must be clear, intentional and often.” As someone who sets the tone for his company, Lod recognizes that clear messaging starts from the top down, and the pitfalls if communication is murky.
“The company CEO must communicate simply on direction and priorities,” says Lod, “Otherwise the company will be crippled with poor information and direction.”
Problems with Poor Communication
- Employee Frustration
Hearing about an initiative after a deadline has passed, not knowing what’s happening within the company or even their own department, can lead to frustration for many employees. This damages company culture and even fosters distrust within the ranks. In turn, it can also lead to poor morale and lack of productivity.
- Internal Conflict
Miscommunication can cause tension, which may lead to conflict. Communication, or lack thereof, is quite often the central reason. Some people purposely avoid confrontation, but not all conflict is necessarily bad. On the contrary, when done in a respectful way with a common goal in mind, i.e. to find a solution, a bit of healthy debate can be quite beneficial. When left unchecked, however, it may start to fragment a team.
- It’s Bad for Morale
If an otherwise good employee feels their voice is unheard or their professional needs are not being met, they may feel disrespected or worse, disregarded. This could build stress, dissatisfaction and eventual conflict, which can quickly spread. If it goes undetected, they may suddenly leave the company, taking with them valuable knowledge or possibly clients.
Methods of Improving Internal Communication
Studies show that employees who feel engaged and connected with their workplace have a stronger work ethic, contribute more to a company’s goals, and stay with a company longer. When two people interpret information differently and use a different communication pattern, misunderstandings can occur. Establish a standard set of tools and best practices.
Have a Strategy
Every organization needs a plan.
Author Naz Beheshti is an executive wellness coach and consultant. She observes that “the most successful organizations make employee engagement central to their business strategy.” And further, she states that if your people are engaged, they’ll show up with “passion, purpose, presence and energy.”
Create a Road Map
A road map, or more specifically, how you’ll roll out general announcements, interdepartmental communications and even regular performance reviews. All these touchpoints matter for engagement. Knowing the regular ‘beats’ in your weekly and monthly company calendar can set expectations and offer a comfortable rhythm to your team.
Managers should set clear expectations and goals from the outset for both individuals and teams, creating far less margin for error via assumptions. Be honest, to the point and offer helpful information.
Carefully choose what medium(s) of delivery to use.
Having a face-to-face meeting may be ideal in building trust, but it is not always possible with some organizations. Video conferencing and streaming options are much more accessible today. Still, there is little substitute for the ability to listen and show empathy.
Gallup also found that highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability. The same report observed that “the most successful organizations make employee engagement central to their business strategy.” Why? Better engagement leads to far less turnover and reduced absenteeism.