Effective communication is almost always a key to success in business, but many companies do relatively little to support and encourage it. Workplaces where communication is overly difficult or not reliable enough almost always succumb to many avoidable but costly problems.
There are some simple ways to improve the quality of communication in just about any business, however. Making the effort to put any of these ideas into action can easily pay off many times over.
The Value of Taking Communication More Seriously
All businesses rely heavily on communication, whether that means sending and receiving emails or using hand-held radios like those sold by Peak Push To Talk. Every type of communication comes with unique features and vulnerabilities, but they all have plenty in common, as well.
All told, poor communication is thought to cost businesses somewhere around $37 billion every year. One study found that the average worker’s productivity drops by about $26,000 per year because of problems with communication. A great deal of money could be saved if companies were more likely to focus on improving communication by:
- Keeping important information accessible. Communicating does not need to mean starting a new conversation every time the need for more information or guidance arises. In fact, workplaces where important information is overly difficult to come by tend to become cluttered with too much redundant communication. As soon as it has become clear that certain types of information are being sought regularly or should be, some means of making them more accessible should be developed. Digital tools make it easy to update guidebooks and other documents to be sure that they will always be as informative as possible. Making especially important information more accessible will cut down on the sort of repetitive, routine communication that so often gets in the way of more urgent and distinctive conversation.
- Setting standards and enforcing them. That workers and managers will communicate as needed is too often taken for granted. That can easily lead to gaps in communication that lead to expensive, troublesome problems. Whether for technicians in the field or for those they report to, having standards in place will make such issues less likely. When a worker knows that a report must be filed at a certain time, the information required will be more likely to be gathered as soon as it becomes available. Managers who are required to communicate regularly with their team members and own bosses can be counted on to stay in the loop.
- Creating new channels as needed. Even generally effective lines of communication can sometimes use some rethinking and reorganization. Opening up new avenues of communication can allow information to flow in ways that make formerly unnoticed opportunities clear. When higher-ups gain access to feedback from workers lower down in the ranks, for instance, they often become a lot more informed about operational realities and difficulties. Being willing to establish new lines of communication whenever they could be helpful will always be an asset.
- Learning from failures of communication. When miscommunication or a simple lack of information causes a problem, blaming one of the involved parties will rarely be the best response. The most successful businesses always try to learn from their failures, and communication is an activity which is especially amenable to this type of improvement. Simply analyzing how and why communication broke down will often reveal a simple way to avoid the problem in the future.
Improving Communication Means Becoming More Competitive
Simple strategies like these can be used to improve the quality of communication in just about any business. Companies that manage to elevate the usual level of communication inevitably benefit in plenty of relevant, results-enhancing ways.