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Communication

In: Business and Management

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The importance of communication in an organization can be summarized as follows: 1. Communication promotes motivation by informing and clarifying the employees about the task to be done, the manner they are performing the task, and how to improve their performance if it is not up to the mark. 2. Communication is a source of information to the organizational members for decision-making process as it helps identifying and assessing alternative course of actions. 3. Communication also plays a crucial role in altering individual’s attitudes, i.e., a well informed individual will have better attitude than a less-informed individual. Organizational magazines, journals, meetings and various other forms of oral and written communication help in moulding employee’s attitudes. 4. Communication also helps in socializing. In todays life the only presence of another individual fosters communication. It is also said that one cannot survive without communication. 5. As discussed earlier, communication also assists in controlling process. It helps controlling organizational member’s behaviour in various ways. There are various levels of hierarchy and certain principles and guidelines that employees must follow in an organization. They must comply with organizational policies, perform their job role efficiently and communicate any work problem and grievance to their superiors. Thus, communication helps in controlling function of management.
An effective and efficient communication system requires managerial proficiency in delivering and receiving messages. A manager must discover various barriers to communication, analyze the reasons for their occurrence and take preventive steps to avoid those barriers. Thus, the primary responsibility of a manager is to develop and maintain an effective communication system in the organization.

Effective communication in an organization increases productivity, decreases employee turnover and improves office atmosphere. Whether a supervisor or regular employee at the organization, the better you communicate--as difficult as it might be at times--the better working relationships you'll have. Not everyone, however, comes from strong communication backgrounds, so it's important to bring new employees up to speed on important communication methods. After all, a few communicators in the workplace don't render the same results as 10 communicators in the workplace.
Listening
In the business world, listening goes much farther than speaking and is undoubtedly the most important component of effective communication in an organization. When interacting with others, listening will help you avoid confusion, understand tasks more clearly and generate an overall positive connection with the person to whom you're speaking. Additionally, if you don't listen to people, they won't listen to you.
Listening extends far beyond hearing and understanding words. It involves offering positive body language to speakers so they know you are listening. These signals include making eye contact, nodding in understanding or agreement, standing or sitting in a welcoming and approachable way, and not interrupting. All of these elements fall into the listening category because they serve to ensure the speaker that you understand and are interested.
Using these techniques every day will go a long way with your co-workers. Benefits include a cordial environment, people listening when you speak, and improving office communication.
Speaking
Words are powerful. Speaking is an art form not to be taken lightly, regardless of how flippantly many of your co-workers might use their words. That's why it's important to allow others to speak first. Gather every opinion in the room, think about what you hear, write notes if you want to, and answer accordingly. If at the end of your deliberation you have something to say or if you disagree with something that was decided upon, it's time to speak up.
Take a deep breath and begin by affirming what others have said in the meeting, using your notes if you need to. Point out what you like about certain ideas and then, if necessary, what you don't like. After spending time on what's been discussed, you should state your opinion plainly, clearly and tactfully. Give reasons, evidence and statistics for the things you say. Wrap up your comments with a recap of the meeting and your opinions.
It's impossible to predict how a conversation will unfold, but if you loosely follow these guidelines--acknowledge others' thoughts, agreed and disagreed points, your opinions and a conclusion--your comments in meetings will go farther than you ever imagined.
Related Reading: What Does Effective Communication in Organizations Involve?
Preparation
Preparation in every situation paves the way for effective communication. Before every phone call, business meeting, conference, interview or predetermined conversation, brief yourself on the components of the meeting before even thinking about moving forward. Write down things you want to discuss, questions you want to ask and points you want to make. This tactic translates into productivity, professionalism and respect from others.
If you practice this method every day in all situations, you will find yourself facilitating meetings more often than not, so if you are a regular employee who is always prepared and knowledgeable, advancement is not far on the horizon. Preparedness not only benefits your organization, it benefits your career and your interactions with co-workers.
Effective communication: skills that make leaders stand out from the crowd
Jo-Anne Facey - Mercer Human Resource Consulting

Jo-Anne Facey, Associate, Mercer Human Resource Consulting
For more information about effective leadership communication skills and training, contact Jo-Anne, in Sydney, on 02 8272 6206, or in Melbourne, Sandy Hutchison on 03 9245 5316
While strong leadership is fundamental to business success, an organisation can only succeed when employees at every level clearly understand where the business is going, and they support, and do what is required, to achieve business goals.
An overriding objective of any communication program should be to effect a behaviour change. The desired change might be an attitudinal change or it may be a significant change in work processes to support a major shift in organisational direction. Effective leaders communicate strategically, translating important business objectives into terms through which employees readily understand 'what's in it for me?' In response, employees are engaged, align their actions accordingly and work towards propelling an organisation to success. All too often, communication programs fail in that they do not tell employees what the employees want and need to know.
Dynamic organisations acknowledge the significant value that effective communication can deliver, especially in the climate of persistent change. Communication is no longer considered to be the 'soft stuff' but is seen to deliver tangible results. Improvement in customer satisfaction, service delivery and product quality, increased employee satisfaction and retention of key talent are just some of the areas in which effective communication will impact the bottom line.
Whose responsibility is communication?
Effective communication should pulse in all directions through an organisation like a heartbeat. But it doesn't just happen. Nor is it solely the responsibility of communication functions. To achieve this level of permeation, responsibility for the communication process must rest with management at all levels across the organisation.
Poor communication is repeatedly cited as a key contributor in the failure of major change efforts. Not surprisingly, communication skills are increasingly regarded as a critical skillset for leaders, particularly in situations where the leader is an instrumental driver of change.
Rightly, communication skills, both in terms of personal ability and strategic capability, are being given increasing importance in leadership competency models. Leaders who stand out from the crowd are those with exemplary communication skills. Consequently, leadership communication skills training has become a core component of leadership development programs.
Leaders play three roles as communicators
Superficially, communication appears to be deceptively simple - write an email or send a memo. In fact, it's a complex process that must be addressed from many angles to achieve the best results. Leaders must understand all components of the communication process to apply them effectively.
To have impact, careful communication planning and management, and clarity and consistency of messages are key factors. Unfortunately, many communication efforts focus only on the delivery of a message, and neglect the vital planning and management of the process. The speed and volume offered by technology through such channels as email and intranet, are often erroneously equated to effective communication.
This model shows the three integrated communication roles a leader plays:

As a communication infrastructure builder, the leader must consider a number of issues: * the organisational culture; * the current communication climate; * identification of various changes that impact stakeholders; * integration of communication with other human resources practices.
In developing a strategy for any communication program, the leader should: * analyse each stakeholder and the impact of the change for them; * determine measurable communication objectives; * develop a clear, consistent message that is meaningful to the stakeholder; * select and use appropriate communication channels; * measure the effectiveness of the communication effort and adjust the strategy as necessary.
It is only at this point, in the leader's tactical role as communicator, that message delivery becomes important. The leader may utilise a range of fundamental communication skills, such as: * presentation skills * asking effective questions * listening skills * facilitation and problem solving * conducting high impact conversations * coaching and mentoring skills (one-on-one communication)
Components of each of the roles will be required in mixed degrees to effectively manage the communication challenges of different situations. The leader must understand these roles and determine the degree of attention that the current communication program demands from each role.
Drivers of effective communication - Leading, Involving, Listening and Informing (LILI™)
Overlaying the leadership communication model are the four drivers of effective communication: Leading, Involving, Listening and Informing (LILI™). Traditional communication approaches focus only on informing. However, this forms only a fraction of the communication equation. By looking at effective communication in this context, it is easy to see why communication programs that only inform fail to deliver results.
Communication is necessarily a two-way process. A communication strategy will evolve and adapt over time in response to many inputs. To shape a strategy that is meaningful and, as a result, effective, leaders should incorporate each of the four drivers, as appropriate to the situation.
The leader must know and understand his or her audiences and their information needs. Listening to and involving stakeholders in decisions provides invaluable input and feedback, essential to communication effectiveness. Leading by example, 'walking the talk', sets a powerful behavioural model of commitment, and sends a clear message in times of change.
Leadership communication competency models
In improving leadership communication effectiveness, an organisation must first determine the leadership skills and behaviours, that is, the competencies, that constitute communication excellence. A comparison of the current level of communication competence of an organisation's leaders with the desired level of competence will quickly indicate the nature and extent of the 'skills gap' and training needs of the participants. This assessment will guide the development of the tailored communication training process where leaders can readily acquire new skills.
Factors such as business context, organisational culture, and leadership challenges are taken into account when developing training programs. Customisation and careful evaluation of training programs will ensure that the training delivers a sound return on investment and positive business results.
Continued acquisition of effective communication skills is an ongoing process. Leaders must be encouraged to continually apply and hone these skills practically.

Effective communication is critical to any organization and can help it in many ways. In fact, communication plays a role in product development, customer relations, employee management - virtually every facet of a business' operations. Employees are a key audience because they often serve as the conduit to other audiences. If employees are informed and engaged, communications with other constituencies are likely to be strong as well.
Clear Expectations
Effective communications help to establish clear expectations for employees and, perhaps surprisingly, for customers as well. For employees, clear expectations will convey how their performance will impact the company and give them an indication of what they need to do to achieve positive feedback. For customers, clear communication can help manage their expectations about service issues or even about how best to interact with the organization.
Strong Relationships
Effective communication builds strong relationships. Trust and loyalty are key factors in any relationship and both are boosted by communication that is focused on meeting individual needs, conveying important information and providing feedback - positive and constructive. Strong relationships with external audiences also build strong solid communication about products, services and company culture and values.
Related Reading: Effective Communication & Organization
Ideas and Innovation
Open channels of communication can lead to new ideas and innovation in a number of areas. Employees that understand what's important to their companies can focus on making improvements and spotting opportunities for innovation that can help further success. When employees know their ideas will be sought after, that company leaders will have open minds and be responsive to their feedback, they're more likely to contribute their ideas. Customers also can be a source of great ideas to help improve products and services.
Customer Ambassadors
The more employees know about the company, its culture, its products and services, and its response to any negative issues, the better job they can do of serving as ambassadors to the community, their friends, relatives and other business connections. Employees who feel they have a strong, positive relationship with their employers and trust the information they receive from their employers will be more likely to share that information with others. Employees can be a highly valued and trusted source of information about a company and its products and services.
Strong Teamwork
Effective organizational communication will lead to strong teamwork and the ability for employees at all levels of the organization to work together to achieve company goals. In addition, effective organizational communication will provide employees the knowledge, structure and positive work environment they need to feel comfortable dealing with conflict and resolving issues effectively.
References (3)

1. The Six Symptoms of Communication Problems
Do you see any of these symptoms of communication problems in your organization?
___ Lack of teamwork – The people who need to collaborate aren’t doing it well, or are unable to have productive communications.
___ Poor planning or workload-overwhelm – There is too much to do in too little time, and/or people are not managing their calendars and workload.
___ Insufficient resources and support – We have problems of people needing more assistance, money, equipment or other resources to do their work properly.
___ Lateness – There is a lack of respect for deadlines and due dates, and people arrive at meetings late, deliver results late or don’t respond to requests promptly.
___ Poor work quality – Our products and services don’t meet standards or don’t look or function the way they should.
___ Difficult people – We are accommodating personality issues or some people’s personal problems are affecting the workplace atmosphere and productivity.
2. The Six Causes of Communication Problems
Which causes of communication problems do you notice in your organization?
___ People are not aligned with mission and vision – Too many people do not understand why our organization’s work is important, and how their results contribute to the big picture.
___ People are fuzzy on accomplishment – Not everyone understands what their managers want to accomplish, what results they need to produce to achieve that, or what those results should look like and how they should work.
___ People are not responsible for performance networking – People don’t always realize who their internal and external customers are, who they need to work with, and who has the information or other resources they need.
___ People require micro-management – Some people do not know where their resources come from or consider where and how their own results will be used by other people or groups.
___ People are undisciplined about timelines – Some people do not grasp the importance of timing, such as when we want things to happen, when their due dates are, and when to communicate with other people.
___ People with poor work habits – Some people do not plan how to get their work done, how to manage their schedule and promises, or how to communicate appropriately with managers, staff, and others.

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