Good communication skills, both oral and written, are essential to the effective operation of a business. So often these days, managers themselves may be deficient in knowing how to foster good communication among team members. Public-facing employees may also lack good communication skills when dealing with clients.
In addition, while technology has sped up communication, we often discover team members have diminished capacity for listening, speaking, or writing with confidence and ease. They may struggle to express ideas clearly, to share ideas, and to persuade others.
Poor communication skills have been directly linked to business losses, so it's the wise manager who focuses on improving communications internally and externally.
Why Communication Is Important
Good communication in the workplace is important on many levels, from employee engagement and team effectiveness, to profitability and client relationships. Here's a brief look at some of the ways good -- or bad -- communication can impact your workplace.
- Conflict. Just when you think everything's firing on all cylinders, conflict among your employees arises unexpectedly. Generally, poor communication is the underlying factor, with both parties believing it's the other who isn't communicating well. Often, we don't understand each other's communication patterns so we misread what they are saying or trying to say. We just don't have the tools to understand differing communication patterns. And, we often feel our emotional needs are being invalidated, which builds toward tension and conflict.
- Building Engagement. Better communication builds connections between people, and when that happens, employees are more engaged and the workplace is more productive. When an employer better understands what motivates and fulfills the team, or when there's a sincere effort to recognize and cultivate talents and skills in a way that helps achieve company goals, the relationship between management and employees is vastly improved.
- Client Relationships. If your employees engage with clients, training is essential so they improve their communication and connect with others better. This helps them understand client needs, and communicate that those needs are important, which can help smooth any conflicts that may arise over time. It also helps in the presentation of new information that the client will need to know, but to which the client may be resistant.
- Team Building. When a business fosters open, non-threatening communication, a safe place for creative thought and free expression is the result. This in turn allows employees to think more creatively, to express ideas, and to take ownership for projects and challenges. This also helps the manager make more informed decisions on delegation, team building, employee developing, and strategic initiatives.
Why Employees Lack Communication Skills
In general, people don't intentionally set out to communicate poorly. Yes, moods and personalities can get in the way, but mostly, people don't communicate well because they don't know how. Some of the major reasons this occurs:
- No confidence. While a person may acknowledge an inability to communicate, and may even have studied up on how to improve it, that person may still have no confidence that the effort will pay off.
- Social awareness and/or emotional intelligence lacking. This is the most common reason for poor communication. People often don't know they are poor communicators, since they've never been told.
- Poor communication techniques. While some people know they have some challenges communicating, they don't know how to improve.
Quite often, improving employee communication skills is a multi-faceted approach that starts at the top. The manager or leader starts by addressing the need in an open and non-threatening way, and then might create some teams or committees to discuss ways that communication can be improved.
At this point, you may want to bring in coaches or consultants to help get the effort going. Then, you may also want to look into formal training sessions for managers and employees, either in a classroom setting or through e-learning.
Learning to Communicate
A good communications training course will teach the participants how to share ideas, be more persuasive, avoid conflict, and get the communicator's ideas noticed and accepted. It will teach techniques for turning oneself into an effective and even powerful communicator. Participants should absorb techniques that will help improve their listening skills, which will in turn help them to break down communication barriers. They should also be taught the essentials of public speaking, so that they are not fearful about presenting their ideas in a clear, coherent, and effective manner in front of a group.
Good writing skills are especially important -- particularly in these days of terse, rapid communication via emails, texts, and social media -- communications which may be misunderstood and even offend.
If you'd like your team to become more effective communicators, why not connect with an adviser at Infotec today, and ask about the Communication Skills for the Workplace course, or other options, both in classroom and online?