Lee Iacocca once said, “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, they won’t get you anywhere.”
Indeed, effective communication skills are vital for success in business and in your given profession. In this article, we’ll look at a few of the many ways good communication is good business.
Good Communication Drives Superior Financial Performance
According to Watson Wyatt’s 2009-2010 Communication ROI Study, businesses that communicate with courage, innovation and discipline, particularly in tough economic times, are more successful at engaging employees and achieving desired business results.
“Effective internal communication can keep employees engaged in the business and help companies retain key talent, provide consistent value to customers, and deliver superior financial performance to shareholders,” said the study, which included 328 organizations across the world. Watson Wyatt’s newest communications study, like its other ones, found that businesses that communicate effectively with their employees are also the top financial performers. A key finding of the study was that companies that are highly effective communicators had 47 percent higher total return to shareholders over the last five years, compared to firms that are the least-effective communicators.
According to the study, the best companies invest in helping leaders and managers communicate with their employees. While the study points out that only three out of 10 organizations are training managers to deal openly with resistance to change, highly effective communicators are more than three times as likely to do this compared to the least-effective communicators.
A survey developed by Accountemps®, a Robert Half Company, points out another reason why good communication equals good business. The survey found that better and more frequent communication with staff members is perhaps the best way to raise employee morale.
The survey was conducted by an independent research firm in 2008 and is based on interviews with 150 senior executives from the nation’s 1,000 largest companies. Nearly half of executives who participated in the survey said better communication is the best remedy for low morale. According to the survey, the absence of open and honest communication with staff tops the list of management missteps that can wear down employee morale.
Accountemps®, the world’s largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals, offers the following suggestions for fostering better communication with your staff members:
- Manage the grapevine. Don’t ignore half-truths and unfounded speculation. Take control of the rumor mill to limit its potential to preoccupy employees. Be available when staff members have questions or concerns.
- Make accessibility a priority. Respond promptly to individuals’ requests for help and initiate conversations about how their work is going. Also, keep in mind that many employees feel more comfortable discussing their concerns if approached individually.
- Listen. Avoid interrupting employees during discussions or acting distracted when you’re talking to your team. Also, offer nonverbal feedback to show you’re actively listening. Remember the value of in-person communication.
- Don’t allow frequent e-mails to replace face time with employees. Periodic staff meetings and one-on-one conversations are still the preferred methods for sharing important or complex information.
- Get employees involved. Ask staff members to brainstorm creative ways to solve everyday challenges. Having a say in the outcome of a project motivates employees to do their best work.
- Share the vision. When assigning tasks, explain how they support larger business objectives.
Good Writing Skills: A Must For Business and Professional Success
Good written communication skills are a particularly important facet of good business. As the bulk of correspondence within an organization occurs through the written word, U.S. businesses spend billions of dollars every year improving the writing skills of their employees. According to the National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges, American corporations spend as much as $3.1 billion annually to remedy deficiencies in this fundamental professional skill among their employees.
The Commission’s report entitled Writing: A Ticket to Work . . . Or a Ticket Out, A Survey of Business Leaders (2004) concludes that the ability to write opens doors to professional employment. “The survey confirms everything we believe about how the ability to present oneself persuasively and articulately on paper is a big part of individual opportunity in the United States,” said Bob Kerrey, president of New School University in New York and the Commission chair.
The report surveyed 120 human resource directors in companies affiliated with Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs from U.S. corporations with combined annual revenues of more than $4 trillion.
According to the Commission’s report, people who lack the ability to write and communicate clearly will not be hired, and if already employed, are not likely to last long enough to be considered for a promotion. The report found that one-half of responding firms in the survey said writing is one of the factors they take into consideration when hiring professional, or non-hourly, employees and when making promotion decisions. In addition, the report found that:
- Two-thirds of salaried employees in large American companies have some writing responsibility.
- Eighty percent or more of the companies in the services and the finance, insurance and real estate sectors—the corporations with greatest employment growth potential—assess writing during hiring.
- More than 40 percent of responding companies offer or require training for salaried employees with writing deficiencies.
- Between one-fifth and one-third of hourly (non-professional) employees in fast-growing service sectors have some writing responsibility.
- Writing skills are particularly important if someone desires professional employment in the services and banking, finance, insurance and real estate industries.
Article Sources: Accountemps® (www.accountemps.com); the National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges (www.writingcommission.org); and Watson Wyatt (www.watsonwyatt.com).