Effective communication in the workplace is an integral component of successful organizations and important driver of productive organizational behavior. Workplace communication is the verbal and non-verbal interaction between individuals connected by a shared internal business relationship. This type of interaction typically takes two forms; internal and external communication. The former type of interaction exists between workplace colleagues such as management and subordinates, or between employees. The latter is the communication between company employees and external stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, retailers, or distributors.
The benefits of effective communication in the workplace exist for both individuals and the organization. In most cases the individual experiences soft, less tangible benefits, such as;
- A happier, less-frustrating workplace experience.
- Frees up employees to focus on other more productive activities.
- An increase in satisfaction from workplace activities and workplace relationships.
- An increase in productivity can lead to an increase in pay, promotion, and prestige
For the organization the benefits are often more tangible and measurable;
- Effective communication channels in the workplace ensure that project requirements and employee expectations are properly relayed.
- Good communication ensures that management can focus on other more important tasks.
- Effective external communication can lead to greater customer loyalty and retention, which only can positive impact the bottom line.
- Reduce micromanaging and time spent with suppliers, which further frees up time resources that can be focused on more productive functions.
Besides being frustrating for those individuals involved, ineffective workplace communication has a number of negative consequences for both the individual and the organization. Often there are misunderstandings between workplace colleagues, which can lead to arguments and relationship damage that rarely can be repaired. This ultimately leads to wasted management hours spent rebuilding relationships and micromanaging interoffice communication. The management team is left being reactive as opposed to proactive due to differences resulting from poor communication. This inadequate interaction results in a reduction in employee performance as well as employee satisfaction. This often leads to excessive employee changeover which can leave the company in an untenable situation.
Organizations and there stakeholders must often work together to ensure that effective communication in the workplace is achieved. In most cases the roles and responsibilities of each differs;
The Role of the Organization
- Develop, implement, and test effective communication channels such as codified processes for complaints, criticisms, and grievances, or open door policies between management and subordinates. These codified channels must be differentiated where appropriate depending on the level of the communication: organization wide, departmental, team, or one-on-one.
- Standardized templates are a device often employed to ensure effective communication between the business and external stakeholders.
- Ensure that passive checks and balances are in place to ensure stakeholders are communicating in an adequate manner.
- A private one-on-one performance review process.
- Organizations can conduct employee surveys or pay consultants to conduct studies to evaluate the effectiveness of workplace communication within the organization. This is often referred to as a Communication Assessment and it can be a very useful tool.
The Role of the Individual Employee
- Individual employees must buy in to an organizational communication philosophy and culture, and commit to the time and effort it takes to instill effective communication in the workplace.
- Employees must demonstrate active listening when interacting with colleagues and external associates.
- Paying attention when spoken to and asking on-point, non-derivative questions during group meetings. Employees should always consider taking notes when needed.
- Respecting the opinion and point of view of others; taking the time to learn and understand another opinion before passing judgment.
The nature of effective communication in the workplace has experienced considerable change over the past 10 years. More and more each year workplace colleagues are communicating via email or internal text messaging systems. For instance, a number of major banks are now utilizing an internal 'chat messaging' system that connects employees via a designated employee number. The end result of these changes is that associates who formerly communicated in person are now running their businesses less and less in person. This transition and change has occurred in other areas of conducting business also, such as interaction with both customers and suppliers. These changes have lead to a breakdown in workplace relationships as the world has known them and company's that have successfully navigated this upheaval have emerged with increased efficiency and competitiveness.