David Grossman reported in “The Cost of Poor Communications” that a survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year because of inadequate communication to and between employees.
Building a Stronger Base
The first step in improving corporate communications is personal assessments. They can be built upon for both internal and external communications issues. According to an article by Graham Young for Entrepreneur, this assessment has six steps. It combines self-awareness – gauging one’s strengths and weaknesses – with emotional intelligence, which is an ability to monitor and utilize emotional responses to issues:
- Determine your relationship value – how do clients, peers and managers view you and the role you perform?
- Alignment – does your behavior and job performance align with the company’s mission and your team’s needs?
- Objective – what are you looking to accomplish? Whether it’s spoken or written, there’s a need to be clear
- Understanding your own and others’ emotional response to a request
- Empathize! – this is the ability to put yourself in your colleague’s place to get a sense of what s/he’s thinking and feeling
- Emotional control – while this might seem self-evident, it’s a good idea to look at potential “minefields” in both made and received requests
By using this process as the cornerstone for improving communications efforts, both ongoing and new employees will do a company proud. But let’s say that an organization’s communications systems need an overhaul. Without it, the company’s days may well be numbered. What steps can be taken with employees? Training. And more training.
How, When and Where to Implement Training Protocols
Across the board, quality training points to an organization where employees are valued. Applying some training techniques to enhance and aid both internal and external communications are usually quite simple and straightforward.Isabelle Thottam, a contributor to Monster.com, listed the 10 best companies in the U.S. for training and development programs. She notes that U.S. companies spend an average of $4.5 billion a year on training programs, while others estimate training dollars as high as $70 billion. There are some elements that these companies have in common. They are:
- Onsite and off-site training courses
- On-the-job training
- Access to job-related seminars and discussions
Some companies offer even more.
So what are the best tactics available to HR and managerial executives to teach both new and current employees to improve communication systems?
Moving Ahead of the Curve
While good communications are vital to businesses, antiquated and outmoded methodologies ring a death knell. There are some simple steps a company can take to improve a system.
Jeff Miller, a talent management director, observes “When most people think of training, the first thing that comes to mind is a mandatory meeting in a stuffy conference room with a boring instructor walking through poorly designed slides.” This is the unpleasant reality for too many employees. Miller notes that the first point to consider is how to motivate an employee who’s in training. There are three essential elements to address, based upon a popular theory in psychology called self-determination. They are autonomy, relatedness and competence. So what strategies used in training can provide the foundation for corporate communications and self-determination?
- Making the session or program learner-focused rather than instructor-led. By providing an avenue to an employee that enables him/her to take ownership of the work s/he does, whether it’s a product or a service.
- Utilizing the “think, pair and share” mode among the class’ attendees. First, the information is presented and absorbed by individuals. They in turn discuss the materials in pairs. Finally, the floor is opened for questions from the group. Shyer employees may benefit from a one-on-one discussion about the materials with the instructor. This relatedness vastly improves corporate communications from the ground-up.
- Competence is holding employees accountable for what they do or don’t do for the company. A quick way to ascertain what an employee will use from the training is to ask that person how and what has just been learned will be applied to his/her job.
The easiest employees to train in an upgraded and efficient communications model are the new hires. Invest in their training, and watch their communication abilities soar.