By Goke Ilesanmi
Effective communication is critical to success in any endeavour. Companies and people that communicate effectively are very successful, while those that fail to do so are hardly or marginally successful. Reading for speed and comprehension, business writing, public speaking, etc., are becoming necessary skills for everyone today in the business environment. As an organisation, if your staff cannot display effective internal and external business communication skills, your business is paying the price in lost time, lost customers and lost revenues.
Instrument of unification
All organisations are held together by and perform their functions through the process of communication. Communication is the channel of influence, the mechanism of change, the means of motivation and the socialising agent that enables an organisation to reach its goal. Without communication, there can be no interpersonal interaction.
Irrespective of the management style adopted by a manager, he or she must manage people. It is through these people that a business succeeds or fails. A manager’s primary responsibility is the development of a team of people that work WITH him or her rather than FOR him or her. If the manager can accomplish this feat, the likelihood of realising the maximum return from individuals to achieve the goals of the organisation is greatly enhanced. And one major way of achieving corporate goals is through effective communication.
Findings show that managers spend about 70 to 80 per cent of their total time communicating in one way or the other, which may be talking, listening, reading or writing. Without effective communication, there can be little or no performance management, innovation, understanding of clients and coordination of efforts. Without effective communication, it is difficult to manage the expectations of those who are in a position to make decisions.
Most managers do not communicate well, and do not set an organisational climate where internal communication is managed effectively. This is not surprising, since a manager who communicates ineffectively and does not encourage effective organisational communication is unlikely to hear about it. Poor communication is self-sustaining, because it eliminates an important ‘feedback loop’. Staff members are reluctant to express their concerns about communication because they do not perceive the manager as receptive. A manager needs to be an active listener. According to Ed Brodow, a communication expert, we hear mostly what we want to hear, not what the other person is trying to communicate to us. In short, you may be fostering poor communication, and never know it. You may see the symptoms, but unless you are looking carefully, you may not identify your own involvement in the problem.
Effective organisational communication, regardless of form, requires three things.
First, all players must have the appropriate skills and understanding to communicate well. Second, it requires a climate or culture that supports effective communication. More specifically, this climate involves trust, openness, reinforcement of good communication practices and shared responsibility for making communication effective. Third, effective communication requires attention. It does not just happen, but develops as a result of a deliberate effort on the part of management and staff.
As a manager, your role in improving communication with respect to each of these can be defined thus: First, if you want to improve communication, you will need to ensure that you and staff have the skills and knowledge necessary to communicate effectively. Second, you play a critical role in fostering and nurturing a climate that is characterised by open communication. Finally, you must bring communication to the forefront of organisational attention. If you make the effort to improve communication, your staff will recognise that it is important. If you ignore it, so will the staff.
Rules for management communication
As regards rules for management communication, the first of the rules is to tell staff in advance. Karl Walinskas, a communication specialist educates that whether you are dealing with salespeople, floor-sweepers or doctors, anytime you as a manager wants to make a decision that affects people’s lives, tell them well in advance. Another rule for management communication is to give enough information. The final rule for effective management communication is to live by example, that is, walk the talk of your message.
Today’s managers must show the resolve to achieve organisational goals through effective communication.
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GOKE ILESANMI, Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.
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