Communication is one of the building blocks to the success of your business, regardless of its size. Taking communication for granted can lead to dysfunctional operations and affect the bottom line. Organizational communication is defined as “the sending and receiving of messages among interrelated individuals within a particular environment or setting to achieve individual and common goals.” This indicates how the transmission of information needs to be a two-way process where there is room for feedback so that effective dialogue can occur.
Organizational communication should be a key consideration because it is a tool to accomplish tasks and requires the skill to give adequate instructions and effectively follow them. It also influences worker productivity where, depending on the aptitude and experience of management, your team can meet deadlines and company goals.
This article will look at the types and channels of communication to establish a positive climate where the general tone of the relationships among individuals who interact with one another regularly is constructive. The aim is to create a culture conducive to your company’s success by defining how your organization engages with people and where the shared information encourages employees.
3 Types of Communication
There are various aspects to consider when deciding how to manage how communication takes place within your company. Having defined a company identity is the first step to streamlining all your communication efforts and ensuring consistency around the brand you’re trying to build. Having said this, let’s look at different ways in which information flows within the organization and its various forms.
- Upwards refers to communication that comes from junior to middle or middle to senior staff. For example, should an employee has a question or needs the assistance of their manager. Ideally, the manager or supervisor will be readily accessible to help resolve issues promptly. All members of management, including the owner, should be available to assist when necessary.
- Lateral or horizontal communication is the exchange of information and ideas between peers, including coordinating their activities. For example, one employee may depend on a coworker to let them know when they’ve completed a task before continuing with the next step in the project.
- Downwards is senior staff communications with mid-level employees. It provides employees with the information they need to set goals and allocate resources. Additionally, it keeps them up-to-date on company developments, changes they need to make, or provides feedback to the employee.
As your company grows in size, you will have to formalize how communication happens internally and externally. There isn’t room for vital information to slip through the cracks, and communication addressed to the public should be coherent. For example, there should be a system where information is documented and shared with the appropriate person to answer customers’ questions. In practice, your company could use an online inquiry form to have a person designated to quickly respond to potential clients.
Channels of Communication
Depending on how quickly you need to circulate or process information and how complex the message is, you will use verbal or non-verbal communication in your internal communications. When you need an instantaneous response from someone, you will call as opposed to emailing them. It is easier to get immediate clarification during a phone call than through an email.
When implementing a new procedure, you need to take the time to train employees face-to-face to ascertain their comprehension and be available to answer questions as they’re raised. A couple of advantages to group training is that participants are exposed to questions they may not have considered, and you’ll only have to answer a question once.
Another channel of internal communication includes emails. The advantage of emails is that you can organize information and have data on record. The disadvantage is that your message may be read in an unintended tone because there aren’t any visual cues, and there is a delay in the opportunity to ask for clarification.
When considering how your business intends to communicate externally, the options available to you are non-verbal and verbal. It would be best if you established a corporate identity for consistency in your written communication. Everyone should use the same terminology and style when communicating with the public.
Addressing Communication Gaps
The larger your company is, the more likely you will experience communication barriers. Let’s see how you can avoid communication breakdowns in your business.
- Encourage feedback in the work environment where employees can raise their grievances and share their ideas. Create a space where people feel valued and, in turn, increase loyalty to your company.
- Be concise and accurate with the information shared. Information overload leads to not being able to process messages or to pass on factual information adequately. So, whether upward, lateral, or downward communication, it’s essential that the information you share is short, clear, and expresses what it needs to without using unnecessary words.
- Incorporate digital tools or an online system that provides up-to-date information about the company accessible by all employees.
As a business owner, you may want to consider investing in communication skills training that brings attention to the following:
- Attitudinal and behavioral barriers to communication where stereotyping in terms of gender, age, background, or education can lead to a breakdown in communication.
- Cultural and language barriers occur by not being sensitive to cultural differences, differences in belief systems, and disregarding someone based on their native language or communication style.
In this article, we looked at why, as a business owner, you need to plan for how communication will take place within your company and how it presents itself to the public. A strategy on how employees and stakeholders interact without being too prescriptive ensures that everyone’s efforts align with your business objectives where learning, improvements, and innovation can happen. We also saw how to address communication gaps and the benefits of promoting employee participation. Giving training opportunities for improvements is also another way to align employee practices with the communication efforts of your business.
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