When businesses falter or fail, there is often a systemic communication problem contributing to or causing the struggles.* Once these problems become widespread, they can be difficult to fix. However, if you are aware of some of the most common challenges that result from poor communication, you can help your business avoid them or resolve them—before they cause financial and/or other problems.
While many businesses embrace a dynamic, team-oriented work style, a failure to effectively communicate individual roles and responsibilities can have serious consequences. When employees are not sure what their duties are, they are more likely to assume others are taking care of problems. Businesses that fail to clearly communicate expectations to each employee—when that employee starts in a new role and on an ongoing basis—can find themselves with an inefficient and potentially unreliable workforce. But establishing things like basic responsibilities, areas of autonomy, and how success is measured helps businesses operate more smoothly. It also helps contribute to better employee morale and higher retention rates.
Even small businesses often divide tasks among departments. Doing so can be efficient, as it allows each group to focus on its own discrete tasks. However, it’s hard for a business to operate effectively if departments aren’t collaborating—or at least aware of each other’s roles and responsibilities. And for larger businesses, interdepartmental communication is fundamental to achieving overall goals. For example, if Finance isn’t sure of what Marketing is doing, and Marketing doesn’t know what Operations is planning, and no one understands what’s coming out of Research and Development, that business is likely to struggle. Communicating the big picture is essential.
In today’s business world, information technology systems are often the basis for a large portion of employee and interdepartmental communications and functions—from project management, customer databases, and order management and fulfillment to file storage, e-mail, and even instant messaging. While businesses rely on technology to create efficiencies and help maintain a competitive edge, if that technology is out of date, inappropriate for the task, poorly designed, or improperly used, the business can suffer. Furthermore, technology is intended to facilitate communication—not replace it.
Many businesses have numerous locations throughout a region or around the globe. Even if operations are central to one location, many employers allow telecommuting and/or rely on off-site contractors. But workers who are not in the same physical space can experience communication challenges. These issues can even arise between floors or units within the same building. Without direct communication—whether face to face, on the phone, or through video conferencing—a spread-out workforce can complicate efforts to keep everyone on the same page and working efficiently.
Businesses regularly communicate important information in writing, such as new initiatives, company developments, staffing updates, protocols, and even events and social announcements. Poorly crafted written communications, regardless of the subject, can confuse and frustrate employees. But when businesses take the time—and dedicate the necessary resources—to craft clear, well-written communications, recipients are able to process the information and take the necessary action.
Employers consider strong communication skills one of the most important qualities for job candidates.† With an online communication degree such as a BS in Communication, you can learn how to help businesses with their communication issues and gain the skills employers need to address a range of challenges in a variety of environments. The right communication degree program can help you learn how to develop strong relationships, tailor your messages to various audiences, and promote ideas that inspire action and change. When you learn the latest industry techniques and strategies, you’ll be better prepared to be an effective communicator who can drive results in today’s fast-paced, consumer-driven global economy.
*B. Groysberg and M. Slind, The Silent Killer of Big Companies, Harvard Business Review, on the Internet at https://hbr.org/2012/10/the-silent-killer-of-big-companies.
†National Association of Colleges and Employers, Job Outlook: The Candidate Skills/Qualities Employers Want, on the Internet at www.naceweb.org/s10022013/job-outlook-skills-quality.aspx.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.