Communication is the essence of a human being. Our ability to communicate within ourselves is what distinguishes us from other beings and makes us superior. It naturally plays a huge role in business. Business Communication is the heart and soul of a growing business. In absence of which, there can be no exchange of path-breaking ideas, no strong interpersonal relationship and no intrinsic work motivation.
The art of communication is the language of leadership. ~ James Humes
Communication is the cornerstone of an engaged workforce. Effective communication can increase employee engagement, boost workplace productivity, and drive business growth. And there’s no time like the present to enhance communication within your organization.
In this blog, I will just try to dive a little in the huge ocean of a topic that is Business Communication. My attempt is to touch all the major aspects of the topic and offer some actionable steps to improve communication.
According to Wikipedia, Business communication is information sharing between people within and outside an organization. These exchanges are performed for the commercial benefit of the organization. It can also be defined as relaying of information within a business by its people.
In a nutshell, it is the imparting of information, knowledge, ideas, feelings within and outside an organization. It involves encouraging a work environment that facilitates the free and easy flow of ideas, thoughts and feedback. As a result, it unites the entire workforce and drives them towards a common goal, that is the betterment and success of the business.
Aspects of Business Communication
Well defined audience:
The flow of Communication must be audience centred. Business communication can be employee-employer communication, customer relations, brand management, public relation etc. Hence, the first way to go about is to categorize the type of audience and deliver the message accordingly. The motive is to make the exchange of information clear and relevant.
Style and Tone:
Style and Tone of the message plays a huge role. When you’re in a business environment, the probability of going wrong with your tone and style of communication is just too high. You want to connect to your audience and form a relationship, but you also have to maintain the business etiquette and formal tone.
Communication is essentially a two-way street. You can only foster effective communication when there is a balance between expressing and listening. Asking questions, discussions and inviting suggestions are integral parts of effective business communication.
The frequency of business communication is another crucial aspect. It is not something that you can practice every now and then, in fact, it should become part of the fabric of your company values. The more you communicate the better. Also, conduct meetings on specific issues at fixed intervals to ensure you maintain the momentum of all the important processes.
Concise and Straightforward messages:
You should always keep the messages short, precise and straightforward. Try to avoid ambiguous messages, long messages and technical jargons. Tailoring relevant and simplified messages to your targeted audience is important. Also, it is advisable to use a global language for communication.
Peer to Peer Communication:
Business Communication shouldn’t only be in a top-down manner. Horizontal communication is just as important. Create an environment that facilitates collaboration, teamwork and open peer discussions. When you encourage peer-to-peer communication, it enhances interpersonal relations. Also, Community-driven engagements result in better delivery of team goals.
Transparency and honesty:
Transparency is a huge element of business communication. Businesses and workplaces must encourage an open door culture. It facilitates an honest exchange of messages without the fear of repercussions. Similarly, employers or people at a higher level should also maintain the same level of honesty while communicating. You should make your employees aware on to matters about current statistics, important company decisions. Also, make sure to convey the company goals and missions to your employees. When you allow open and honest communication, it creates stronger work relations and instils a sense of belongingness.
CHANNELS OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION
Channels of Communication are the medium/methods through which messages are exchanged. Business communication is often segmented into Oral/Verbal Communication and Written Communication. Further, owing to the profound impact of digital media in the past decade, electronic media or multimedia communications offer an ever-growing channel for communication to businesses.
ORAL BUSINESS COMMUNICATION:
Oral Communication takes place when you use spoken words to transfer messages or information. For example face to face conversations, group discussions, video calls, interview, telephone calls are common oral communication in business.
Oral communication is the richest form of communication, it is because of the clarity that comes with it. Voice notation and body language of both parties minimize the chances of distortion of messages.
WRITTEN BUSINESS COMMUNICATION
Written Communication is when you use written methods to exchange messages. Emails, newsletters, instant messages, reports, formal letters, official memos, posters, flyers proposals etc are the most common examples of business communication.
It is a more concise, more informative and more explanatory channel. Written form has less room for error and is often preferred for exchanging formal messages. Official notices, legal notices, contracts or assignments with instructions are shared in writing.
Another advantage of written communication is that you can store them for future use. Large messages that are hard to be absorbed by the receiver at one go can be reviewed and analyzed in the future for reference.
MULTIMEDIA OR ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATION
Electronic or digital channel has emerged as a standard for business interactions. It offers the best features of both written and verbal communication. This channel is largely responsible for making communication a speedy, frequent and cost-effective task.
Online communication removes the barrier due to the physical location of the members. It allows exchange messages to instantaneously and globally.
CATEGORIES OF BUSINESS COMMUNICATION
Project Management and Collaboration:
Project Management or Task management is a crucial aspect of the business. A good project management strategy helps in quantifying the running projects. It gives a medium to solicit and share inputs, opinions and ideas.
Presentations are a crucial part of communicating in business for a long time. Companies and organizations often use business presentations as a means of selling an idea or product. You can conduct presentations for training purposes, or to motivate the audience. Presentation practices allow systematic and detailed demonstrations of an idea, project or proposal.
If you are using messaging tools like Skype in your workplace, you surely know how handy and important instant messaging in business is! It lets you check on your people and maintain the constant flow of communication. Chats are a great place for quick, free communication and feedback.
Web Conferencing and Collaboration:
Video conferencing have developed to become one of the top communicating channels nowadays. It gives businesses the ability to conduct meetings regardless of the physical location of the member. Web conferencing ensures speedy addressing of business concerns in short notice. They offer a real-time, quick, cost-effective solution to companies.
Social Network and Streams:
Social networks have become a part of lives. Business too must have a presence in social media. A sound social network enables businesses to make announcements and share the news with a wider audience. Streams are free-form, open-participation forum for short updates.
Blogs, Newsletters and Forums:
A great way of sharing and exchanging long-form content is through channels such as blogs, newsletters and bulletin boards. These platforms enable both employers and employees to share stories and exchange experiences. Online forums offer another a great way to carry discussions on important company prospects. These are discussion boards/groups that allow members to post queries and comments.
Document Sharing and Library:
Businesses follow various procedures, policies, processes, business plans and job descriptions. These specifications vary from company to company. Having an organized document sharing system or a library is of great help for organizations. Future employees or existing ones can use them as a reference point when needed. They are a great way to communicate with your employees and make sure the workforce is on the same page.
Team Spaces and Collab tools, VoIP and Unified Communication etc.
STORIES OF BEST INTERNAL BUSINESS COMMUNICATION PRACTICES AROUND THE GLOBE
Town hall meetings:
A Town Hall Business Meeting is an organization-wide business meeting conducted in large spaces. Here employees or guests can interact with business executives. They get the opportunity to ask questions and engage in discussion on prime topics of the organization. These are generally held in large conference halls, hotel ballrooms, corporate cafeterias etc.
Town Hall meetings offer a great way for management to keep their teams up-to-date on important information in the first-hand basis. Employees feel engaged and empowered to receive unfiltered feedback. Since these meetings allow active participation of everyone they are all called "all hands" meetings
Team outings are a great way of communicating with the employees. Besides, such activities de-stresses employees and lead to increased coordination among them. When your people communicate outside, they get the chance to gel with each other at an interpersonal level. As a result, it eliminates any kind of physical or psychological communication barriers that exist in the workplace.
Team outing could be group excursions, team lunches etc.
‘The deepest principle of human nature is a craving to be appreciated’
Fostering a culture of appreciation at work probably is one of the best ways to improve the flow of communication. When you make it a point to appreciate their employees for their small and big achievements, it leads to increased motivation and engagement at work. On the other hand, when employees feel they are not recognized well, they feel a sense of disconnect with the company. Therefore, it directly impacts their productivity and performance level.
But having said that employee recognition will only thrive when you implement it properly, i.e with well-defined criteria, clarity, and fairness.
Here are a number of ways to implement employee recognition in your organization.
Team Building Activities:
Team building activities are a powerful way of enhancing business communication. They improve skills such as planning, problem-solving, conflict resolution etc.
Members get to learn each other's strength and weaknesses. Networking, socializing and inclusivity all the aspects driving business communication can be improved through well-planned team activities. They instil the feelings of team spirit, competitiveness and creativity among the employees.
(Find some interesting employee engagement activities and ideas here.)
How Google does it?
Google has the best work culture in the world according to a lot of books, magazines and websites. One of their many amazing programs is the TGIF meetings that are held every Friday.
The upper management shares a quick recap of what all happened over the week with the entire company. Google maintains a very high level of transparency by sharing information with the employees that most companies wouldn’t. Also, they hold an open Q/A session where employees get to ask anything related to the company.
The story of how Snapdeal implemented great employee communication strategy during its downfall sets a great example of how effective communication can help businesses in many ways.
Read the full story here.