What is the definition of business communication?
It’s no secret that strong communication skills are advantageous to any relationship. With effective communication, misunderstandings can be avoided and underlying issues ironed out. But what does this look like in a business context?
Communication in business is a skill that deserves plenty of focus and nurturing. In a blog post written on the subject, employee growth platform Smarp says “business communication [is] the constant flow of information within and outside a company.” Effective business communication is achieved when employees and management are aligned on the core values of their company, each with the common goal of completing work accurately and efficiently, while keeping all participants informed throughout the process in order to minimize the risk of errors.
It sounds simple — but strong business communication skills are hard to come by and often de-prioritized within a company strategy. One study by risk management firm Arthur J. Gallagher found 60% of brands in the US do not have a long-term internal communications strategy.
Why effective business communication is crucial
Effective communication is essential for the success and growth of an organization. Without it, a company may experience the following adverse effects:
Inefficient communication slows down productivity, causes mistakes, delays projects, and upsets clients and customers. In fact, according to David Grossman, author of You Can’t Not Communicate, poor communication costs an average of $26,041 per employee every year.
Poor communication causes misunderstandings. This leads to disagreements within teams, as no one wants to take accountability for the mistake. This can lead to a culture of blame and disempowerment, which in turn leads to high staff turnover.
Lack of innovation
When communication skills lag behind, the chances are creativity will too. A team that’s encouraged to communicate, share, and participate in each other’s ideas will generate innovative and exciting new concepts.
A team that communicates poorly is much more likely to make mistakes. This could either delay a project, or worse, upset a client or customer. Neither outcome is good for company revenue.
How to improve business communication skills
The good news is there are many simple, effective, and inexpensive ways to create a vibrant culture of communication within your organization. Business communication skills aren’t so different to the skills learned out in the real world when we socialize — and when management takes the time to implement a robust communication strategy, their team’s pre-programmed communication skills can shine through. The fact is, they already have all the tools — they just need to learn how to use them in a business context.
Focus on non-verbal communication
A study by ubiquity.acm.org found that 55% of communication is non-verbal, which means body language, eye contact, posture, and facial expression are as much a part of a conversation as the conversation itself. That’s why it makes sense to implement a culture of active listening — David Grossman shares how in this blog post.
Create a culture of sharing, input, and dialogue
Effective communication starts from the top. Management should therefore be the first ones to implement a culture of dialogue. Ask for regular feedback from your team. Encourage openness and discussion. Once problems are identified within your team, bring all parties together to discuss what happened so it does not occur again in future. It might seem challenging at first, but it’s important to remember that difficult conversations are always the ones we need to have.
Implement a language learning strategy
It’s common for miscommunication to be a direct result of language issues. Our world is becoming increasingly international and many companies hire dozens of employees with different nationalities, many working in their second language. This has many advantages, but can lead to all sorts of issues with communication, both internal and external. That’s why a language learning solution such as Babbel for Business will have a positive impact on your company’s communication culture.
Make your shared objectives public
There’s nothing more motivating than publicizing a shared goal and working together to make it happen. The same can be said for communication. Make your strategy public, and outline exactly what you — as a manager — will be doing to ensure your communication skills improve. Your team will appreciate your willingness to lead by example and will follow suit.
Use online sharing tools instead of meetings
Although meetings certainly serve a purpose, more often than not they take up valuable time that could have been spent elsewhere. There are more efficient ways to communicate, especially during times of lockdown. There are weekly status report tools that could save your team hours each week, and communication channels that will align your team without cutting into their working day.
Effective business communication will ensure your company optimizes revenue channels, builds sustainable relationships with customers and clients, and creates an open, inclusive, and motivated work culture. The key is to ensure management understands how crucial communication is to the success of a business — and encourage them to lead by example.