“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…”
The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln
Whenever the topic of public communication skills comes up, both expert and novice orators would agree that the Gettysburg Address stands out in history, despite being only a couple of hundred words and completed in less than five minutes.
Not only did the communication skills include eloquence in the language, but also the message was concise, direct, and clear. Everyone ‘got’ what the speaker was talking about. Good communications skills include various forms of word strands, tone, and diction to make a situation more palatable. It can sometimes help to change the original negative perception of any given encounter into a more positive one. With strong communication skills in place, managers and leaders can open the floodgates for influencing others, perceptions, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes toward a situation.
Take a look at how some companies managed to ace communication skills in the workplace.
Top communication skills with examples of companies that got it right
Amazon: Shorter and precise communication is better than long talks
The Radicati Group research stated that on average a person receives 120 business emails daily. Good quality communication in the workplace helps prevent unnecessary problems and promotes better productivity. To effectively communicate at the workplace, leaders need to use easy-to-understand that is short. Using sentence structures that are too long can lead to losing the employees’ attention, and the need to repeat themselves.
A famous example of short yet precise communication is the “Question mark email” of Jeff Bezos. By sending a brief, standardized response, one can know precisely how to get their point across as quickly and succinctly as possible.
Dominos pizza: Dealt with communication crisis in the digital landscape
The Dominos pizza scandal is an example of how correct communication skills can change the impact from negative to positive. When Patrick Doyle, President of Domino’s Pizza, recorded a clear apology and uploaded it on youtube, his executives thought it would tarnish the brand’s image even more. Instead, the apology video did open the floodgates, and people’s positive comments skyrocketed. This example states the need to acknowledge the truth professionally.
Stagecoach: Implemented user-friendly platforms for employees to communicate
Stagecoach decided good internal communication could be a game-changer for their massive fleet of employees. So they implemented a mobile employee app for their customer-facing workforce. As a result, they could now receive real-time feedback, improving response time.
This example highlights how companies must create easy-to-access communication channels so that all employees have access to all the information needed. It is even more critical to do so when the company employees work remotely, so the operations can be well-coordinated and run smoothly.
Tesla: Uses clear and straightforward language to communicate
Elon Musk has laid down a strict policy to avoid using acronyms or nonsense words for objects and processes. By removing any confusing terms or acronyms, you eliminate confusion about what that acronym might mean or lengthen the conversation. He clearly stated, “ We don’t want people to have to memorize a glossary just to function at Tesla.” Pristine language avoids confusion.
3M: Allowed employees to speak freely without roadblocks (fear of being fired or mocked)
William McKnight, the General manager of 3M in 1914, stated “Mistakes will be made. But if a person is essentially right, the mistakes he or she makes are not as serious in the long run as the mistakes management will make if it undertakes to tell those in authority exactly how they must do their jobs.”
The leaders at 3M believed that their employees needed a stress-free environment to come up with new and fresh ideas or even discuss their problems. Therefore, they made sure that their employees didn’t face many roadblocks when it came to communication. Employees who felt discomfort or wanted to talk about an uncomfortable topic were given assurance of anonymity as a part of the 3M Employee Assistance Plan (EAP).
Thomson Reuters: Engaged employees in effective communication through storytelling
Thomson Reuters launched #dare2disrupt in 2016 to create multiple entry points for employees to innovate or feel part of an innovative organization. Employees were encouraged to create a story around every innovation. Reuters would break down the audiences according to their liking, skills, and needs and then ask their employees to create a story around how they would use the innovation.
Hershey’s: Made remote communication possible
Hershey’s created a classic, simple, and intuitive communication platform to unite disparate teams and increase employee productivity. It allowed knowledge sharing and communications channels in a way that Hershey’s employees could enjoy access to everything they needed to work smarter, from any device, anywhere in the world.
Employees at Hershey’s felt more connected, and collaboration was possible between all channels even when staff was in different countries. This example shows the steps that leaders can take to help employees who work remotely come up with innovative ideas and accomplish more together through a single intranet hub.
Utilizing a platform that makes remote communication easy, employee collaboration is empowered – both within teams, but also across departments as well as worldwide. In addition to setting up the right platforms, employees also need to be updated with new skills that help them to understand the current market needs and feel confident about their job.
Netflix: Increased engagement across teams with feedback surveys
The Netflix company culture focuses on ensuring that their employees can directly state things that would make them consider leaving the job through consistent feedback surveys. They can communicate freely on the roadblocks they face in their productivity and things that deteriorate their motivation.
When you use feedback to make changes, employees feel their voices are heard. It further helps to stabilize trust, increase the survey response rate, as well the candor of the responses.
How do bad communication skills in the workplace affect business?
Poor communication has negative effects that can decay companies from the inside out. Below we explain exactly how this happens. Some of them will make you cringe.
1. Missed deadlines (and revenue)
Lack of communication causes unmet expectations. Missed deadlines or client appointments, and employees unsure of what their role on specific projects is, are all harmful effects of poor communication skills in the workplace. Suppose your employees have trouble defining their priorities. In that case, there is a high chance they will often choose the wrong options and end up creating further chaos.
For example, let’s say the development team of the company talks to the project manager, who in turn talks to the client. If this chain of communication is tampered with or broken, it can lead to setbacks, which add up and may turn into a missed deadline.
Only through clearly communicated expectations and priorities is it possible for employees to know where to start and how to complete a project efficiently.
2. High turnover
Poor communication is one of the most powerful reasons why employees quit their jobs. The rise of employee discontentment with their company’s communication systems has a lot to do with corporate protocols and outdated systems. Companies using decade-old ways of communication including those that require face-time with employees are risking high turnover rates, especially considering that now remote working is the new norm.
3. Waste of time and money
According to a recent survey, poor communication costs an average of $26,041 in lost productivity per employee every year. Time and money can be lost due to poor productivity levels, reduced trust, repeated training costs, and eventually the loss of customers who are dissatisfied with the service.
4. Disastrous executive decisions
If stress levels are running high among employees, it’s a clear sign of poor communication skills. High-stress levels will have a direct impact on decision-making. Poor communication systems create a feeling that everything on the employees’ to-do list is urgent, causing everyone to hurry, feel tense, be overworked, and have zero motivation– all of which is counterproductive to efficiency. The results include poor decision-making on the executive levels.
How to measure whether your employees are communicating effectively or not?
The problem, however, is not only with improving communication skills but also with a lack of monitoring the improvement of your effort. Let’s take a deep dive into the best ways to effectively measure your workplace communication and find out if it’s as efficient as you think.
Employee engagement rates
To measure the effectiveness of internal communications, employee engagement rates are a good source. Actively engaged employees are happier in their work and are more likely to share their company’s success story. An organization measures employee engagement with key performance indicators (KPIs) such as readership, participation, and social metrics such as the number of likes, shares, and comments a piece of content or community generates.
Open rates or intranet read-receipts
There are many companies that distribute leadership notes or communication on new procedures that are surely clear and inspiring. However, if most employees don’t read it, then it completely loses its value. Open rates and other email metrics are useful in terms of measuring whether an employee actually acknowledged receiving and reading important updates.
Page visits and logins
Another metric for day-to-day optimization of communication channels is tracking the frequency of logging into the company intranet, session duration, and whether they participate in communities.
Employee turnover rates
Employee retention and turnover are indicators that let you know whether your internal communications are functioning correctly. If more employees are leaving dissatisfied and frustrated, then chances are the internal communication is weak, making them stressed.
Sales and customer satisfaction
If a company sees a corresponding increase in sales and customer satisfaction levels, it means that employees have the information they need to do their work well. A rise in unsolved customer complaints is surely an indicator that poor communication is the missing link.
Best practices to improve communication at the workplace
Just like a map for a road trip, a good communication strategy should include:
- Outline of goals and timelines
- Symptoms of poor communication like frequent internal errors, high turnover, or poor employee engagement
- Best practice guidelines
- List of communication platforms
- Action-based meeting agendas
- KPIs and metrics to evaluate the success of your communication strategy
Clearly defined rules can help employees to communicate more effectively and collaborate together to complete their tasks successfully. Any confusion that may cause a bigger problem can be nipped in the bud.
Employee sentiment analysis
One way to minimize the effects of poor communication skills in the workplace is to understand what exactly is overwhelming the employees. Is it the harsh tone of upper management, unclear directions, or lack of data accessibility? You need to hear from your workforce as a whole and understand the roadblocks they face in the communication line. With the help of AI, companies can gather and review data from hundreds or even thousands of employees, which is accurate and reliable.
Create an employee pulse survey
Pulse surveys help you get an idea of how your team feels about your company’s internal communications. These surveys are short and frequent in nature. You can gain numerous touchpoints with employees throughout the year and adjust the communication practices accordingly.
Introduce email best practices and guidelines
As the complexity and scale of modern enterprises have only grown, emails as we traditionally know and use, usually only serve to overwhelm employees. The information gets buried in threads, people forget to CC their colleagues, and you open your inbox every Monday only to wish you could swap lives with your pet. Companies should research some simple ways to begin making internal emails work efficiently.
A mindset of agile learning can help shift employees from the routines and limits of modern jobs to the new, previously unimagined future. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your employees find a variety of learning pathways and make a profound impact on your organization’s success.