Effective communication is an absolutely vital component of running a successful business, and not just something that’s good to have.
Communication with customers and clients is not the only kind that businesses need to pay attention to. Successful communication must start from within an organisation and then filter out through external channels. As a manager or team leader you are a busy person and you no doubt have a long to-do list each day that you make a priority to get through. It is important to ensure that none of the activities on your list are taken on to the detriment of good communication, which itself should take pride of place on any good leader’s to-do list. The very essence of team leading is effectively communicating with your team members in order to successfully guide them through their assigned tasks and goals. Here are some of the most important components of effective communication that every team leader must master.
Active listening skills
Communication isn’t just about talking. One of the most valuable communication skills is active listening, which involves listening in a conscious manner to try and discern not only the words that a person is saying but also the meaning behind those words. It can be difficult to practise active listening consistently when you have to simultaneously handle other matters that can appear more important, but with practice it becomes easier and can really help to improve your working relationship with your team members. Active listening can also help you to recognise the true concerns of your team members and so enables you to implement changes that can genuinely benefit the business and its team.
How often you communicate is just as important as how you communicate. When your business is a sizeable one, it is easy to go days or even weeks without communicating with your team members. Whether your business consists of fifty people or just five, making the effort to sustain ongoing and constant communication is vital. Regular communication sends out to your team members the message that they are important to the business and play an integral role in the success of the enterprise, while failing to keep in contact over long periods of time can mean that you are taken by complete surprise when people suddenly up and leave your organisation. Giving your team members frequent feedback can also let them know if they’re on the right track and receive acknowledgement if they’ve done a good job.
Tools of communication
In the modern world, there is a myriad communication tools to use. Whether you pick up the phone to speak with a person, send them an email or have a formal meeting in person, use the tools you have in the most effective ways possible. Internal communication is something people need to get used to and make a habit. Actively promoting free flows of internal communication can help those in your organisation become comfortable with using the various tools of communication, thereby enabling them to sustain an open and communicative culture.
One of the biggest mistakes managers and team leaders make is not asking for feedback from their team members and allowing dissatisfaction and even resentment to fester without their knowledge. Rather than waiting for the grapes to turn sour before you become privy to the opinions and ideas of your team members, demonstrate your respect for your staff by talking with them and trying to understand their thoughts. You may not be able to turn your business around completely with this feedback, but you can most certainly implement changes that can have a positive impact on your organisation.
Reviewing and updating company practices
Just because effective communication isn’t common practice in your business doesn’t mean you need to be resigned to the current state of affairs. It is never too late to review the communication polices within your organisation and implement changes in promotion of effective communication. While a complete review of the existing system might seem time consuming, it can pay huge dividends. Effective communication usually translates to a lower turnover rate amongst both clients and staff, and in the long run this can save your business the cost of recruitment, advertising, re-planning and retraining. Many people underestimate the importance of effective communication to their businesses, which is a shame as it is one of the most vital components of running a successful organisation. Communication must be monitored consistently and communication policies adapted to suit the needs of businesses. Successful communication is absolutely essential to running a thriving, successful business that people actually want to work for. Rather than leave communication at the bottom of your to-do list, as a manager or team leader, make communication a top priority and you’ll soon see your business reaping the benefits of having a more cohesive, cooperative and effective team.
NB: This publication reflects the views of the author.