“We often treat communication as if it were a discrete act, a matter of performance or lack thereof. Yet meaning cannot be separated from context. A crucial, but often overlooked, function of leadership is creating a culture in which effective communication can flourish.” - Greg Satell, a Forbes and HBR contributor
"My letters outline the learnings from the past seven days and summarize my meetings with customers, industry stalwarts and ecosystem partners. I have written more than 150 letters so far." - D. Shivakumar, CEO, PepsiCo India
"I've found that the highest engagement brought about by my letters has been from our youngest employees, who're always the quickest to respond." - Rostow Ravanan, CEO, Mindtree
In the last two decades in Indian companies, management, development and retention of human resources have assumed greater significance. This has happened especially, in the light of rapidly changing workforce profile (education, lifestyle, growth aspirations, mobility, less stability, tech-savviness, etc.), concurrent pressure on optimizing cost, need for enhancing revenues in shorter periods and the need for harnessing the human potential.
Workplace communication, one of the dimensions of HRM, has now turned even more critical. In the business context, communication has a very delicate role because there is a pressing need to relay the required information at the right time to the concerned employees through the right channels and in a suitable form which helps achieve the individual as well as company goals.
However, workplace communication as a business apparatus has not received adequate attention of HR practitioners and the top management. On one hand, customers and investors get loads of information and on the other hand, employees do not receive sufficient information about their own companies’ progress and plans.
Paul Nystrom defined workplace communication as, "The medium through which managers lead and direct the activities of others, harness human creativity, coordinate with specialists and control activities of those who work under them, and understand the needs and wants of those who function within the organization, and those who use the organization's services and goods.”
This definition highlights the role of managers and leaders in communicating effectively towards the pursuit of business goals. However, its focus on the role of the company and the employees (other than managers) is not sufficient. Therefore, let’s expand the relevance and consider effective communication in workplace as a business process that helps the company in achieving its goals by:
Excellent communication in the workplace serves the following purposes:
These could be few of the consequences of inadequate communication:
When employees cannot converse with their seniors adequately and comfortably:
If communication is difficult with peers, then there is:
The following points will make communication in the workplace more effective:
Many studies including those by Gallup and Mckinsey Global Institute have shown that effective communication in the workplace positively influences employee engagement, creativity and productivity. Effective workplace communication is a product of sound strategy and its proper execution. Being so inherent and ingrained, understanding communication in workplace and its influence on people, processes and parameters of the company requires special efforts.
In a nutshell, in a competitive business context, enough attention to the effectiveness of workplace communication would certainly benefit the employee and the company.
This blog is written by Ketan T. Bhatt. He is a management graduate (IRMA-92), and over 20 years, has gained inclusive experience and expertise in HR and OD domains. Since February 2014, KT is an independent HR professional.