Make Communication Count in Your Business
September 19, 2019
Communication is more than simply talking to employees and customers. Think for a moment...are you really communicating or just talking? A review of several dictionaries might define communication as "the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else."
In business, however, communication is more than one person merely expressing his or her views to another. This form of communication can certainly take place (and does all the time), but the real exchange of information is on another level. One person speaks and expresses certain views while the other person listens and processes the thoughts. When the first person completes his part of the dialogue, it then becomes the second person's turn to express his thoughts on the same subject.
This type of exchange is important whether it is with employees, customers, clients, vendors, investors, lenders, or anyone associated with a particular business. It is the "give and take, talking and listening" that produces productive results. These discussions can run the gamut from discovering new processes, identifying a customer’s needs, understanding employee issues, negotiating a contract, or closing a sale. Regardless of which side a person is on, two-way communication is a necessity for real progress to occur.
The Power of Knowledge
Unfortunately, many times a hindrance to effective communication is the "power of knowledge." This means that if "I know something you don't know," then I must be more important and more powerful than you. Even in a small business or SME, this type of knowledge power play is evident.
Peak business efficiency cannot be achieved when valuable information is not freely communicated among everyone involved. Owners and managers must take the lead. Although some information is confidential and can only be shared with employees at certain levels, general information should be disseminated on a frequent basis. This can be accomplished through one-on-one discussions, emails, newsletters, posted announcements, Intranet, or departmental meetings. The more owners and managers communicate with employees, the better they will be able to judge the "pulse" of the workforce and learn from the "bottom up." When the power of knowledge is reserved for only a select few, the employee motivation and enthusiasm decreases.
The Silent Treatment
One-sided dialogue is a problem. Effective communication can certainly not occur when only one side is communicating and the other side is silent. The failure of person-to-person communication or failure to return phone calls or emails is a persistent and recurring problem plaguing many businesses and individuals. Too often, owners/managers do not communicate with employees and employees ignore requests and inquiries from colleagues or customers. Again, owners set the tone and establish communication standards within their businesses. Communication regardless of the source is important and must carry with it a high priority.
Customers want emails answered and/or phone calls returned. Employees want the same from co-workers. Vendors need responses. Everyone associated with a business should understand that non-responsiveness is not an option and will not be tolerated.
Starts at the Top
If your business does not stress total and open communication, it should. Attitudes and actions within a business undoubtedly permeate from the top down. Owners and managers cannot act in a way that is dissimilar to directives given to employees. Prompt replies, open-door policies, and free exchange of ideas enhance the communication process, which eventually leads to more efficient operations, improved employee morale, and higher customer satisfaction.
Try it...it works!