Poor communication costs organizations productivity and returns to shareholders. It’s calculated that $26,041 US is the cumulative cost per worker per year due to productivity losses resulting from communication barriers. Towers Watson calculate that companies with highly effective internal communication have 47% higher total returns to shareholders.
So it’s clear that clean, effective communication is critical. And what specifically are the benefits?
- When leaders communicates well during a process, they have more control over the results of the process – they are able to lay out for staff how things are going to play out and what their role in the process will be
- Employees that feel they are “in-the-know” are more motivated to do good work
- When you share information on the right things at the right time, others make better decisions
- When people feel well-informed, they feel respected and more positive
- When a leader shares ideas and information, it helps to “socialize” the issue or initiative. The more people hear about an issue or a proposed course of action, the more likely they are to give the leader feedback and buy in to the solutions.
William H. Whyte said that the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. We often think we have communicated but then we discover that others have differing assumptions or have made up a story in their head about what’s really going on.
Leaders need questions in their toolkit to ask themselves when tackling a project or a new initiative. Here are five powerful questions:
- Who needs to know?
- How will this change in process (or different solution) impact others? Peers? Team members? Your boss? No surprises!
- What does my team need to know? Inexperienced leaders often assume that they know what their team would need to know but they are just as often wrong!
- Which partners or colleagues do I need to collaborate with?
- Who else should be involved and at what stage?
Asking yourself these questions on an ongoing basis will make a huge difference to your effectiveness and to that of your team. And if this kind of questioning becomes part of your company’s culture, it will make a significant difference to your bottom line.