Effective Communication=Good BU$INE$$ CENT$

Whether you are an employee in someone else’s business or a business owner, you know the importance of the almighty budget. Ever notice how budgetary dollars become increasingly more precious every year and that they require careful scrutiny to determine where allocations will be made?

So, let’s get right to the point and ask the following question: How much money will you spend on training in your budget? Specifically, how much money can you part with to spend on training you and your staff in effective communication? If your response is “Yes, I know that communicating effectively is an important skill, but right now it’s a luxury I simply can’t afford.”, then you are among the majority of people who share this same sentiment. It seems we can always come up with a barrage of other needs on which to spend those ever diminishing budget dollars; things like technical training, equipment, advertising, etc. The list could probably go on indefinitely, right? As a result, many corporations opt to put communication training “on the back burner” in lieu of what they deem to be more critical needs.

If you’ve read this far, I would invite you to think again about your response. The fact is that the business costs associated with POOR communication far outweigh the costs of investing in solid training. No employee or business owner can afford to lose business, can they? Hopefully you responded with a resounding “NO!” If at this point you’re willing to reconsider the potential value in spending money to train your staff to speak more effectively, then allow me to point out the following:

TOP TEN RISKS TO A COMPANY WITH INEFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION:

10. Inability to attract qualified job applicants.

9. Poor hiring decisions.

8. Miscommunication of key information resulting in either rework or errors.

7. Staff burnout due to low morale and lack of motivation.

6. Reduced staff retention and subsequent increased staff turnover.

5. Inability to meet critical deadlines.

4. Costly purchasing errors with vendors.

3. Damage to company image and loss of revenue.

2. Frustration among internal customers which leads to downtime.

1. Misperceptions and frustrations among external customers which equates to dissatisfied customers.

As you can deduce from the preceding top ten risks, ineffective communication is generally not limited to one or two situations or a few employees. Rather it can start out on a small scale and if left unattended, can have a spiraling effect across departments. This can manifest itself in a pervasive company problem, which often leads to finger pointing or passing the buck. While these behaviors are part of being human, they certainly don’t address the problem and all the while your valued customers are dwindling and that can only mean good news for your competitors. While certainly no one strives to intentionally miscommunicate, it happens every day. So, where are the culprits you ask? Is it Human Resources, Customer Service, Administrative Support, Sales and Marketing, or Management? Believe it or not, it’s not one single department or even one particular person, but rather something that can exist anywhere if communication skills are not taught and reinforced. Most likely you and your staff already have some strengths in communication. Now the question is, are you maximizing your potential? Could you be learning new skills to enhance your communication and build your self-confidence? Let’s consider the following:

TOP 10 BENEFITS TO A COMPANY ENSURING EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION:

10. Attracting and hiring qualified and desirable employees.

9. Employees are managed effectively and motivated which increases productivity.

8. Job tasks are readily understood and properly executed reducing the margin of error.

7. Information is well organized and disseminated correctly, facilitating meeting deadlines.

6. Interactions with vendors are consistent, which enhances purchasing power.

5. Staff longevity is increased due to greater loyalty to the employer.

4. Perception of the company is strengthened which helps to promote future growth and development, leading to increased revenue.

3. Internal customer satisfaction is enhanced which increases quality assurance.

2. External customer satisfaction is increased helping to retain existing customer base.

1. Satisfied external customers readily support your company which encourages new customers and leads to increased revenue.

So, at this point perhaps you’re wondering how you and your staff measure up. Well, how did you do when you looked at the risk factors? Could you identify with any of these points or are you beginning to think you need to consider these issues? If so, you’ve taken an important first step in improving your business and keeping your customers satisfied. Of course you may also feel it’s somewhat overwhelming and are unsure of where to start. A good beginning is to identify key processes and/or departments in your organization and their impact on your business. Next, you’ll want to spend time meeting with the people in those departments and having some candid discussions about what’s going well and where improvements are needed. Last, but certainly not least, is to solicit feedback from your customers. Try to truly decipher how your customers feel about the way your company relates to them. Not only will this information be invaluable to you, but also your customers will see that their opinion is what counts!

As a final thought about the importance of communication, consider all the expressions we have that focus on the subject. These include:

1. jumping to conclusions

2. flying off the handle

3. beating around the bush

4. going around in circles

5. dragging your feet

6. stretching the truth

7. bending the rules

8. pulling strings

9. dodging responsibility

10. throwing your weight around

Interesting isn’t it that for a society so focused on talking about how we communicate, we’re not so willing to improve our communication? As we stop for a moment and look at our day-to-day interactions, it’s remarkable to think of how many opportunities we have to make an impact on others. It often comes down to HOW we communicate our message; not just the words but the delivery of those words. Still think it’s too costly to invest in training staff to communicate effectively? My guess is you responded with a resounding “NO!” Good for you. You know the cost of doing business and want to spend your budget dollars where it makes good BU$INE$$ CENT$.

By: Dale G. Klein, M.A., Corporate Communication & Speech Specialist, © 2008, Profitable Speech, LLC A Sound Investment®. All rights reserved.