Have you ever gotten the silent treatment from your spouse?
It’s disorienting, to say the least. Especially if you
don’t know what you did … or didn’t do.
It’s all about communication. Home life runs far more
smoothly when communication is good, and pretty much tanks when it
Same thing goes for life at work. So why is communication such a pariah
in the business world? Time and again in i4cp research, communication
within organizations emerges as a vital component of issues that are
the lifeblood of businesses: effective leadership, innovation, change
initiatives, M&A, employee engagement, performance management,
teamwork, retention … and the list goes on. You’d
think communication would get more attention, especially when
organizations are expanding globally (or at least sending portions of
their work overseas) and using more outside contractors and remote
When i4cp surveyed organizations about internal communications, 53% of
respondents admitted their companies don’t have an internal
communication strategy. Among lower market performers, 60% reported no
strategy. Respondents acknowledged they aren’t good at
communicating with regional or international employees. Low-performers
were particularly bad at it. They also don’t communicate
effectively with remote workers and telecommuters. Frankly, it became
apparent that most companies don’t think they communicate
well with anyone below the senior leadership level.
Business leaders expend a lot of energy claiming that employees are
their biggest asset, differentiator and competitive advantage. Really?
That asset – often a company’s most expensive one
– is being wasted. Failing to communicate with your
workforce, yet expecting employees to perform well, makes as much sense
as expecting to drive your car to work when you’ve removed
the steering wheel.
People respond to a variety of motivating factors, but communication is
one of the most basic. If you don’t tell me what you want,
it’s likely I’m not going to deliver the
performance you’d hoped for. If you don’t tell me
what the company’s goals are, I can’t know how to
contribute toward them. And I can’t be creative about how I
work because I don’t know what we’re trying to
accomplish. You get the idea.
If you’re serious about business results, you have to be
serious about internal communication. Here are six ideas to help keep
poor communication from killing your company’s performance:
1. Create a strategy so you know what to
communicate, when and how to do it so that important messages get to
the right audiences and don’t get lost in TMI. Information
overload is the biggest challenge to effective communication.
2. Devise special strategies for
communicating with remote workers and those in other regions or
countries. Address cultural and language differences, access to
computers and any other relevant concerns.
3. Talk is cheap, but good communication
needs resources – financial, people and technological. You
invest in recruitment, compensation, training, rewards and other
factors that support development and drive employee performance.
Communication is another part of that package.
4. As you work to hone
managers’ competencies in talent management, include training
in communication for this very important link in your
organization’s chain of productivity and performance.
Managers’ lack of communication skills is a major obstacle
for more than one in four organizations.
5. Don’t overlook
accountability. What gets measured, gets done. Make communication goals
an ongoing part of performance appraisals at every organizational level.
6. Take it to the top. Senior leaders
often need help with their communication skills, too. Their active
participation in and support for internal communication efforts is
crucial to communication (and performance) success.
Do you feel that communication in your organization is effective? Share
your communication tips or any pitfalls to effective communication
you’ve noted in your organization.