In a world of constant communication, talking has become second nature, but do we communicate effectively and why is it important for business?  

The Communication Value Circle defines communication as a part of the value chain, where usually top management and communication professionals seldom share a consistent view or understanding of the supportive role of communication It is critical to make a clear connection in value from communication to the business of the organisation. (Source: IABC guide for practical business communication) 

According to Ilze Olivier, master communicator and innovation manager at DevCom, communication goes beyond exchanging information – it is about creating meaning.  

It is this creation of meaning that holds complexity and is often underestimated by businesses. Effective communication involves accurately conveying information, but also actively listening and nurturing human relationships.  

Hidden impact on businesses 

Many people will have encountered scenarios where communication breakdowns have led to projects going off course, plans failing or instructions being misunderstood.  

Common feedback in these instances includes identifying communication as a problem within a team, labelling individuals as poor communicators or receiving requests from staff to improve communication. Statements like “I didn’t know” or “My team struggles with communication” become all too familiar. 

However, what businesses often fail to recognise is the tangible impact of communication on their bottom line. 

Cost of poor communication 

“Communication has a monetary value and is a driver in any business, whether business owners want to believe it or not,” says Olivier. 

Research by Grammarly and The Harris Poll in their “State of Business Communication” report revealed that poor communication results in an estimated annual loss of $1,2 trillion among American businesses. This is an average loss of approximately $12 506 (R246 793) per employee per year.  

Local studies 

Approximately 200 studies conducted by DevCom in Southern Africa corroborate these findings: 

  • Poor tone and flow of communication impacts employee engagement, resulting in low productivity, missed targets and increased absenteeism. 
  • A lack of communication directly impacts trust levels, brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. 
  • If communication is not prioritised as a core business driver, the gap between key performance indicators (KPIs) and operational outputs widens, leading to a wastage of resources and time. 

Managing the conversation 

Bridge the communication divide with the following global best practices, which provide a roadmap for improvement: 

  1. Start with research: 

Conduct thorough research to understand the current state of communication within your business.  

  1. Scrutinise your strategic plan: 

Develop a comprehensive communication plan aligned with your business strategy, ensuring it considers the following elements: 

  • Target audience/stakeholders. 
  • Key messages. 
  • Communication channels. 
  • Integration with other departments. 
  • Risk assessment. 
  1. Implement measurable activities: 

Launch activities and initiatives that can be measured to assess their effectiveness and make necessary adjustments when the data comes in. 

  1. Address risks: 

Consider potential risks to effective communication and develop strategies to mitigate them to demonstrate the business impact. 

  1. Establish the baseline: 

Determine how your team prefers to receive communication, evaluate their satisfaction with existing communication channels and ensure their understanding of the messages being conveyed. Incorporate feedback mechanisms that work for everyone involved. 

  1. Develop key messages: 

When initiating a new project, craft key messages that clearly convey the “what, where and why” (purpose, goals and importance) of the plan. This approach helps to enhance the team’s understanding, minimising misunderstandings and miscommunication. 

Olivier reiterates: “People use their own assumptions, attitudes and altitudes when interpreting messages.” 

Businesses need to understand that effective communication is not just a soft skill, but a critical driver of business success. By acknowledging its value and implementing the right strategies, businesses can create an environment where information flows smoothly, leading to increased productivity, better employee engagement and higher customer loyalty.  

A successful communication process goes beyond just talking. It involves connecting, understanding and creating meaning. 

Issue: Poor communication has proven loss of revenue within a business. 
Solution: Develop a strategic communication plan backed by research, to remove obstacles to understanding and to improve the effectiveness and profitability of the business.  

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to https://www.dev-com.co.za/ for the information in this editorial. 

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