Businesses pay a heavy price for bad communication, according to The Cost of Poor Communications, a report published by the Society of Human Resources Management. The report cited a survey of U.S. and United Kingdom companies with 100,000 employees each. The results revealed that "inadequate communication to and between employees" was responsible for an average loss of $62.4 million annually across the 400 companies.
Contrast that stunning figure with a finding from the Gallup polling organization that employees who have daily communication with their manager by email, phone or face to face are the most engaged. And when employees are engaged, Gallup reports, their performance is better.
Why Is Good Communication So Important?
The quality of communication can produce negative or positive outcomes.
Many risks arise from poor managerial communications, including:
- Miscommunication, which can result in:
- Lost productivity
- Inferior performance on objectives and goals
- Employee disengagement, which can result in:
- Low morale
- Less job satisfaction
- Poor performance
- Reduced productivity
- Low commitment
- More accidents
- Higher absenteeism
- Higher turnover
- Lower customer satisfaction
- Negative financial impact, such as the annual costs cited in the SHRM report.
Positive outcomes of consistently good managerial communication include:
- Better understanding and strong relationships among managers and their team members, which can result in:
- More accurate two-way transfer of information, guidance, directions, feedback and corporate messages
- Better teamwork
- Fewer errors
- Less rework
- Higher productivity
- Improved performance on objectives and goals
- Creation of a sustainable environment that empowers additional positive qualities and results, including:
- Higher employee engagement resulting in:
- Better morale
- Greater job satisfaction
- Better performance and productivity
- Low commitment
- Fewer accidents
- Less absenteeism
- Lower turnover
- Higher customer satisfaction
- Positive impact on organizational finances, including:
- Increased revenue and profitability
- Lower costs attributed to poor communications as cited in the SHRM report
Managerial Communication at Every Level
As a manager, you likely communicate with direct reports, peers and superiors. Regardless of your audience, use body language to project a presence by standing and sitting straight, making eye contact, and speaking clearly and loudly enough for everyone to hear. And when the time comes, listen actively, showing your engagement by paraphrasing what you are hearing.
There are also specific ways to address each level of audience. Some tips for effective interactions down, across and up the organizational chart:
- Use a tone in keeping with your content.
- Be explicit.
- Ask for questions.
- Be patient, respectful and encouraging, as you would expect others to be.
- Say thank you.
- Apply the tips for Direct Reports.
- Speak face to face if possible.
- Break down silos.
- Offer more information than you expect to receive.
- Learn the boss's listening style.
- Prepare a high-level message.
- Have a detailed version ready.
- Rehearse carefully.
- Start with your principal point — "I propose ... "
- Offer a few details to support your proposal.
- Ask for feedback and questions.
Good managerial communication matters in today's businesses because it drives employee engagement. And employee engagement fosters performance, productivity and dedication, which are important to every business's profitability and long-term success.
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