Effective communication is the building block of all human relationships, doesn’t matter whether the setting is private or work.
In personal life, effective communication is essential if you want to build long-lasting & healthy relationship. It’s absolutely imperative if you want to move forward in life and achieve your goals.
Similarly, effective communication is important in the workplace for reducing conflicts, boosting employee morale, enhancing creativity & innovation, as well as reducing turnover rates.
Note that we’re talking about effective communication here. Just because two (or more) people are communicating with each other doesn’t mean that the communication is effective. Ineffective communication is just as common as effective communication–perhaps even more so.
So what makes a communication effective and other ineffective?
Before we delve into the importance of effective communication in the workplace, let’s understand the difference between them.
Difference Between Effective & Ineffective Communication
To understand the difference between effective & ineffective communication, let’s break down the terms and understand the meaning of each word.
|In the English language, effective means something which is capable of producing an expected or desired outcome or result. For instance, a treaty between two warring countries can be called effective if it succeeds in achieving the desired purpose i.e stopping–or at the very least, pausing–the war.
|Ineffective, on the other hand, is simply something that is not effective i.e something that does not manage to achieve an expected or desired outcome or result. So, continuing the above example, the treaty would be considered ineffective if it failed to achieve the outcome of ceasing the war.
|Effective communication occurs when the communication process goes as planned and the goal of communication is achieved: the sender comprehends the message or information the way you intended.
|Ineffective communication occurs when the goal of communication is not met or there is a disruption in the process of communication. Here, the message that you intended to convey will most likely not be the message that the other person comprehends, which can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and the like.
|In the above example, effective communication would’ve occurred if the two countries managed to share with each other their demands & expectations.
|Ineffective communication would’ve occurred if one country misinterpreted the demands & expectations of the other, which would lead to further conflict.
Our article Ineffective Communication Explained: And How To Avoid it explores the concept of ineffective communication in more detail.
Now that you know the difference between the two terms, let’s move onto the next part: the importance of effective communication in the workplace.
Importance Of Effective Communication In The Workplace
1. Preventing & Resolving Conflicts
Conflicts are a common part of life. They’re especially common in the workplace, where people from all walks of life have to work together in order to achieve a common goal.
Effective communication is key if you wish to prevent conflicts in the workplace. This is because the root of most conflicts is rooted in bad communication.
For example: Sales Department makes a decision that Production is furious with because they can’t meet the deadline without putting multiple already-exhausted employees on overtime. If they do not communicate effectively, more problems arise. On the other hand, effective communication leads to them being able to arrive at a solution that’s beneficial to both.
If workers learn how to communicate effectively & frequently with each other, they will easily be able to communicate their needs and ideas with others. This will lead to better understanding and relationships amongst co-workers, which will further help to reduce conflicts between them.
2. Boosting Innovation & Creativity
Effective communication in the workplace will also help in boosting innovations & creativity amongst employees.
If employees are made to understand that they can freely express their ideas and opinions without facing a backlash and without having to deal with ridicule, they will feel more comfortable speaking up and sharing their ideas with others.
As they open up more, you will come across more creative ways of doing things. Also, if they share their ideas with others, then other people will also feel encouraged to provide their input about the topic. This will help better the initial idea–or you might land up with a platoon of new ideas altogether.
For example: At a business meeting to generate new ideas for selecting a new tagline for a cosmetics company, multiple employees pitch in with their ideas. As employees continue discussing with each other, a brainstorming session occurs, and the company is able to generate an excellent tagline.
3. Helps Team Building
People are often required to work in teams in the workplace. This is because there are many goals that cannot be achieved by a single person alone.
Team building is impossible without effective communication. It’s only when members of a team communicate openly as well as regularly with each other that they will be able to build trust amongst each other and feel comfortable to share their ideas and thoughts.
If team members do not communicate effectively, on the other hand, then this can lead to conflict amongst the members and result in the breakdown of the team itself. Yikes!
For example: Two employees with completely different working styles are asked to collaborate with each other on a common project. If they do not communicate effectively, then they might end up frustrated with the other person’s drastically different method of working. If they do communicate effectively, then they can figure out a common game plan that works for both of them.
4. Boosts Employee Morale
Employee morale is essential if you want employees to feel comfortable in the workplace & want them to give their best possible output.
If employees feel like their ideas and thoughts aren’t being heard or valued, or if you make them feel bad about speaking up, then their morale will reduce.
This will ultimately result in the company facing difficulties & suffering in the long run, as employee productivity will plummet & more people will start looking for jobs elsewhere.
For example: Imagine yourself to be an employee in two different workplaces. One works with an atmosphere of intimidation.
Employees are discouraged to speak anything against the company or voicing their own thoughts and opinions.
On the other hand, another workplace encourages employees to speak their mind & share their ideas. The company also has an open-door policy & employees are also encouraged to get their grievances addressed directly. Where would you prefer to work?
5. Better Management
Effective communication also enhances the overall management of a company. This is because if the management of a company can communicate effectively, then they will be able to better manage the teams and workers under them.
Distribution of tasks, conflict management, employee motivation & problem-solving abilities…all of these can be vastly improved if one is an effective communicator.
For example: Upper management uses multiple communication channels to reach all employees instead of a single channel of communication. This boosts the speed at which employees receive messages & makes it more likely that changes in policy or new decisions are followed more quickly & efficiently.
6. Reduces Turnover Rates
One reason why effective communication is imperative in the workplace is that it significantly reduces turnover rates.
This is because employees that receive regular as well as honest communication feel more valued, comfortable, and indispensable in the workplace. They are also able to forge stronger relationships with their co-workers, which players a key role in determining whether they are likely to stick to a workplace or not.
No organization benefits from having a high turnover rate. Besides the direct impact they have on costs, higher turnover rates also impact the company’s image.
So, if you wish to have a lower turnover rate, then it’s imperative to have effective communication channels in your workplace.
For example: A workplace encourages employees to build lasting connections with their co-workers, makes them feel heard, addresses their grievances, and values their input and ideas. They have a positive work culture. If you were working in such an organization, would you want to leave?
7. Reduces Unhealthy Comptetition
Another reason why effective communication is important in the workplace is that it reduces unhealthy competition between employees–and even departments.
While a moderate amount of competition might actually help boost employee performance, if the competition takes an ugly turn, it can actually negatively impact productivity and performance.
One way to reduce this unhealthy competition is by making sure that employees and departments communicate with each other regularly & effectively. This will help build trust amongst them & make sure that any light competition that occurs is taken in a positive spirit.
For example: There is unhealthy competition between two departments or employees. Rather than ignoring the problem, a workplace encourages them to sit together & communicate with the aim of resolving their disputes. This will work to improve their future relationship & make it easier for them to work together.
8. Helps Bring Harmony In Diverse Groups
Another reason why effective communication is important is because of workplace diversity. These days, workplaces are comprised of a diverse group of people who belong to different social classes, ethnicity, and gender.
Diverse groups have diverse habits, and so communication between these groups can sometimes be a problem. This can lead to miscommunication or even conflict in the workplace and make certain people feel like they’re being left out.
If a workplace promotes effective communication between members of different ethnic groups and takes steps to bridge any gaps of communication between them, then this creates a positive environment for the groups to communicate with each other and to understand the other groups’ perspectives and lives.
Communication between groups becomes easier, which will eventually help create mutual understanding, respect & even friendships amongst them.
For example: If there is a workplace that has a lot of people from diverse environments working together, they educate people working in that organization on other’s cultures, beliefs, language etc. through seminars, workshops, or even asking the people in question to organize such activities as well.
9. Creates More Satisfied Clients
Client satisfaction is imperative for any company to succeed in its line of business. Unless and until clients are satisfied, a company cannot make any progress.
If a firm trains its employees to communicate effectively, then they will be able to better deal with clients. They will find it easier to mitigate any conflicts, understand the needs of customers, and provide information in a way that is easily grasped by the customer.
All of this will ultimately lead to the creation of more satisfied clients, which will help the company gain more profit & expand its reach.
For example: By training employees to regularly check in with clients through email or other mediums, you can continue to stay in contact with them, keep your organization in their mind, and even form a personal connection with the client in question. This will make it less likely that they will abandon your company in the long run.
10. Boosts Productivity
Finally, effective communication in the workplace is important as it boosts employee productivity. This is due to a combination of the factors listed above.
Effective communication will create a more positive environment for the employees to work in. They will feel happier and more satisfied with their place of work. Their motivation level will increase & they will be rest assured in the knowledge that their needs are acknowledged, heard, and worked upon.
All of this will aid in boosting their productivity, which will ultimately directly affect their work performance–as well as that of the company.
For example: A workplace regularly checks in with its employees & communicates effectively about the task assigned to them. This makes it possible for the employee to work quicker, as they no longer have to hunt around for resources or information. It also reduces chances of any confusion, which can further delay work.
For more reasons why communication is important in life, check out our article on 13 Reasons Why Communication Is Important In Life.
Common Ineffective Communication Scenarios (With Solutions)
Meetings are one place where ineffective communication is quite frequent. This is because meetings generally involve multiple people, all of who have different personalities, language, communication styles etc.
Ineffective meetings can cause a lot of problems. If communication is improper, then meetings can go on for a long time, which will end up wasting everyone’s time.
Some people–especially those who are uncomfortable speaking in front of many people–might feel unheard or ignored. If an employee hijacks the entire meeting and only speaks their point of view, other people might feel left out.
So, effective communication during meetings is highly important.
Solution: The best solution to this is structuring your meetings beforehand. So, you can have your time limit for the meeting set in advance.
Besides this, it’s also a good idea to designate a time limit for every speaker and to break apart the overall discussion topic at hand into smaller topics and decide how much time you’ll spend on each. You can also send out the meeting outline & agenda to all the participants beforehand so that they have an idea about it.
2. Communication From Upper Management To Rest Of Organization
Another common scenario where communication problems occur is when communication is happening from someone higher-up in the organization to the rest of the employees.
So, for example, say management puts up a notice on the company website stating a new dress code. However, next week, only a few people show up wearing the correct dress code. The management is confounded! They put up information, then why did no one follow it?
Most often, it’s because people didn’t receive the message.
Solution: The easiest solution for this is to have communication done through multiple channels. So, instead of just sticking to a single channel like email or an official website, you can also spread the message through instant messaging, Facebook, newsletters etc.
3. Communication Between Different Departments
Another area where there is frequent miscommunication is when communication happens between different departments.
One reason for this is that different departments do not regularly communicate with each other, leading to stereotyping and misunderstandings. Some departments might simply not be that fond of each other, or they might generally use different mediums of communication which can cause confusion.
Solution: The easiest way to avoid this is to get different departments in touch with each other. You can do this by having monthly meetings where they sit together & discuss common projects or goals with each other.
You can also actively involve both the groups and ask for their input about what they feel about the other department & how they feel communication between them can be improved.
Check out our article on Barriers To Communication In The Workplace to get a better idea of more barriers to communication & what you can do to overcome them.
Tips To Improve Communication In The Workplace
1. Set Up Monthly 1:1s
An easy strategy to improve communication is to take a proactive approach and actually get employees to communicate with you. You can do this by having a face-to-face interaction with them once a month, where you encourage them to tell you any problems, suggestions, and the like that they might have.
Here, it’s important to let the employee know that whatever information they share with you is going to remain confidential and will not be used against them in any way.
2. Figure Out Their Preferred Communication Styles
Not every employee feels comfortable with sharing their thoughts face to face. Some might find it better to communicate through a written medium like emails or text. Or perhaps they’d feel better if they could have interaction via a quick call.
It’s important to ask the employee or colleague what form of communication they’d prefer. If you have a colleague who doesn’t respond well to calls, for instance, you could inquire if they’d prefer text messages, email, or even simply a face-to-face conversation.
3. Stay Consistent
This is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of effective communication. A lot of people seem to think that if they’ve communicated effectively once it’s a done deal.
However, this is a far cry from the truth. For communication to be truly effective, not only does it need to happen properly but also regularly.
Unless & until you make attempts to regularly communicate with other people, it doesn’t matter how effective the one-time communication was. You won’t be able to reap its benefits.
4. Offer Specific Compliments & Feedback
Another way to improve effective communication is to offer specific feedback & compliments to people. It’s important to not let either of those things be generic in nature.
What I mean is, you don’t want to vaguely let an employee know things like ‘you need to work harder’ or ‘you did well’.
Instead, be specific. Tell them exactly what they need to work upon (for eg: you need to work on your email skills) or what they did really well (for eg: you’re really good at making people understand things).
5. Make Roles & Responsibilities Clear
Communication can quickly break down if people are confused about what’s their role in something. If people are confused about what they’re supposed or not supposed to do, how are they to execute the task efficiently?
So, it’s important to clearly establish people’s roles & responsibilities in the beginning. This way, you can avoid miscommunication and conflict, and rest assured that people will carry out their tasks.
6. Listen Proactively
There’s a major difference between hearing something and listening to it. Hearing is a biological process: simply put, just because you’re hearing something doesn’t mean you’re actually putting your mind to & listening to it.
Listening, on the other hand, is something that you consciously choose to do. Listening involves actually paying attention to the information so that your brain is able to process it and draw inferences.
When a co-worker or employee speaks to you, it’s important to not just hear what they’re saying but actually listen to it. You’ll be surprised at how many problems you can save yourself in the long run by doing so.
7. Seek Feedback Regularly
Another thing to keep in mind is to take other people’s views about your progress into account by asking for their feedback.
Feedback is imperative for a successful communication model as many times, you might overlook details that other people notice and take mind of them.
You might also gain valuable insight into how you can do things more effectively & improve your communication model even further.
To sum up, effective communication in the workplace is important as it boosts employee productivity, improves teamwork & trust, reduces turnover rates & is essential to the overall progress & well-being of a company.
By keeping in mind a few things like having 1:1 with employees, staying consistent with communication, asking for feedback, etc. you can easily improve communication in your workplace.