Why Communication in the Workplace Is Critical for Success

Everyone knows that effective communication is a priority in both our interpersonal and business relationships, but have you ever wondered why communication is so important in the workplace? Or how you can communicate better? Below are the seven most important things you need to consider when determining how communication affects your company's ability to succeed. (Bonus: five actionable steps that can immediately improve your workplace's communication.)

Why Is Communication at Work Important?

The importance of communication in the workplace cannot be understated. Communication enables better collaboration among a diversified workforce. When people share knowledge and ideas robustly, no matter where they work, they can harness the power of essential information and take control of a project's integrity with satisfying results.

Despite the obvious need for communication at work, most people report that ineffective communication causes serious issues. The surveys are pretty shocking:

  • More than half of companies (60%) do not have an internal communications strategy that defines a complete process for idea creation that will drive their futures. 
  • Ineffective communication is cited as the main cause of failure for 86% of companies
  • Three out of four companies rate teamwork and collaboration as "very important," but 39% of workers worldwide say people at work don't collaborate enough.

Communication is so important in the workplace because it allows you and your team members to follow the road to success. Companies need to consider both the quality and the quantity of communication and develop a platform that enriches the experience of everyone involved. Great leaders and teams love:

  • Collaborating more
  • Being more productive
  • Improving creativity
  • Having a better understanding of agreements
  • Enjoying greater work-life harmony
  • Having better mental health
  • Building better relationships across an organization

The Benefits of Good Communication in the Workplace

If a company's internal communication strategy is effective and the personal communication skills of both team leaders and team members allow them to get smart stuff done, the advantages include:

  • Enabling the free exchange of ideas. Established best practices for good communication give everyone a voice at every level and the assurance that they'll be understood no matter the message.
  • Attracting and creating powerful leaders. Effective communicators make great leaders. Great leaders know how to motivate, delegate, build relationships, control conflict, and enable others to communicate well, too.
  • Building great teams. When people communicate and collaborate well, they build effective teams that work smarter. This fosters greater trust, transparency, and personal engagement; improves morale; and keeps everyone satisfied.
  • Fostering and sustaining growth. A company's growth relies on connected communication among all stakeholders so they know what's working, what's not, and where to focus. When everyone is on the same page, it generates exponential growth.
  • Catalyzing new ideas and solutions. People who know they can openly communicate ideas are likelier to share original solutions for creating value. This helps a company make a difference instead of just staying afloat.

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Why Communication Matters

Communication matters to all companies, big or small, because it forms the foundation for exceptional growth and scale if it's effective.

However, most people have difficulty communicating effectively in the workplace. The Harvard Business Review reported on a 2016 Harris Poll that revealed 69% of leaders were uncomfortable communicating with their team members for any reason.

  • 37% were uncomfortable giving direct feedback about performance.
  • 20% were uncomfortable sharing lessons learned and other vulnerabilities.
  • 20% were uncomfortable recognizing team members for their achievements.
  • 19% were uncomfortable giving clear directions.
  • 16% were uncomfortable giving others credit for good ideas.
  • 16% were uncomfortable speaking face-to-face with team members and would rather use email.

Consider the possibilities if 69% of leaders were confident communicating with their team members. What could happen? 

The entire workforce could have a shared understanding of their goals, Core Values, Core Processes, and best practices. They would be clear on what creates value and how to objectively measure performance. They could build extraordinarily productive, humane, and resilient organizations.

Seven Qualities of Effective Communication

Make sure your messages meet the seven criteria of effective communication:

  1. Concise
  2. Complete
  3. Coherent
  4. Clear
  5. Courteous
  6. Concrete
  7. Correct

Indeed's Seven C's of Effective Communication checklist is a great way to remember these qualities, make sure you're relaying exactly what you mean, and ensure messages are easy to understand. 

Here's a little detail about each.

  1. Concise. Statements focused on brief detail are easier for people to remember. Imagine the message is always new information for the audience and use simple sentences that focus only on important or meaningful information. Be as precise as possible, eliminating any unnecessary embellishments.
  2. Complete. If the message is complex and there's a chance the audience may misunderstand the main points, you should include more detail if the audience won't fully grasp the meaning when omitted and include context, which can help in making concise messaging easier to understand.
  3. Coherent. Structured messages that flow from one idea to the next are easier to follow. Organize sentences to build intuitively from an introduction to a conclusion. Tailor messaging to the audience and their general level of comprehension. Keep the audience's experience and lifestyle in mind when choosing words and speech.
  4. Clear. Simple statements expressed in a relaxed, confident manner put people at ease. Avoid unnecessary or confusing vocabulary, phrasing, and terminology. Limit idioms, technical terms, and jargon unless appropriate for the audience. Avoid slang. Use active voice and present tense. 
  5. Courteous. Courteous communicators are considerate of the audience. They show respect for people's time and appreciation for their attention. Make eye contact while talking, speak in a conversational tone so the audience can listen actively, and show interest in the subject matter.
  6. Concrete. Effective communicators use words that convey what they really mean. Use an authoritative choice of words. Command the audience's attention with calls to action, and avoid adjectives and adverbs when specific words can convey meaning directly.
  7. Correct. Communication can only convey the intended message if it's correct and has been proofread for errors. Make sure the information is accurate and facts are vetted. Make sure everything is spelled correctly and grammatically correct.

Examples of Effective Communication

There are nine ways effective communication in the workplace is demonstrated:

  1. Show respect for other people's time and keep mindful of one another's space. It's how people talk and listen to others, usually on equal footing as human beings.
  2. Listen first, so you can understand the message, directive, or objective before you run off and get something done.
  3. Display relaxed body language like making eye contact, using a positive tone of voice, and remaining friendly during an exchange. These simple actions put others at ease, making the receivers more receptive to messages.
  4. Ask questions that are relevant to the communication. Asking questions helps clarify information. Ask a question instead of dictating directions to help guide someone to a better conclusion.
  5. Stay open-minded about beliefs, company Vision or culture, new ways of doing things, novel ideas, research data, questions, and more.
  6. Give and receive feedback gracefully, with thoughtfulness, specificity, and relevance.
  7. Display confidence and empathy at the same time. Confidence shows people you believe in your ideas and you'll follow through on them. Empathy shows people you respect them and are willing to listen to their point of view.
  8. Think about what you want to say before you say it. This enables clear, concise messaging that is easier to follow and comprehend.
  9. Choose a method that's appropriate to the communication. Knowing when to use in-person meetings versus a quick message goes a long way in helping the receiver appreciate the message and respond favorably.

Good Communication Builds Better Teams

Good communication is important for having more engaged employees

Providing a variety of ways to communicate, such as video conferencing, messaging apps, texting, chat, phone, and collaboration technology, is critical for getting work done efficiently and effectively.

Good communication helps to alleviate conflict. 

If someone thinks they're misunderstood or don't fully understand directives, tools that identify communication patterns can help. These tools determine the structure of communication within teams for efficiency. With them, people can adjust how they communicate so that their messages are clearer and more easily understood. Then, the people receiving the messages will be better equipped to act.

Good communication helps to build better relationships with customers. 

When people are trained to communicate more effectively, they can better understand customers' needs and make them feel understood. Effective communicators will likely offer solutions that customers can be more receptive to.

Good communication creates more capable and productive teams. 

When leaders understand their teams' breadth of skills, they're better able to spark their initiative and get buy-in from each team member.

What Makes Communication Effective?

Troubling statistics show that people might not know what is meant by effective communication: 

What makes for effective communication? Context and channel. Here's how to put this into action:

  • Establish a context for the communication that fully explains the reason for the shared message, idea, or question. Explain it so the person who receives it can comprehend the context and respond intelligently.
  • Establish how the communication is sent, i.e., written, verbal, or digital. Today's technological advances have multiplied and improved communication channels. The channel choice defines how messages are composed so they are better received. Now, communication channels enable people to receive messages quicker and stay better connected.

5 Tips for Improving How Your Company Communicates

  1. Always define your goals as well as your roles, accountabilities, and responsibilities. Make goals achievable. Outline clearly what each team member is responsible for in carrying out projects. Define how performance is measured and what is considered a success.
  2. Always listen. It's amazing what a person can learn through respectful listening. Then, when the time is right, encourage friendly dialogue that helps to clarify the communication.
  3. Always enable open communication for everyone. It's easy to work in a silo and not even know it. No matter where people work, either in-office or remotely, keep everyone involved and engaged.
  4. Always self-edit communication. Be thoughtful about your word choice and actions, whether a message, a directive, or nonverbal communication. Make your message accessible to your intended audience. Strive to use a communication channel that's appropriate for the message.
  5. Always use the right technology to improve communication. Find out how Ninety can help you easily improve communication in the workplace right now with a comprehensive system of tools.