The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Business Communication
Whether a business is local, small and community centred, or a giant multi-million pound organisation, communication is the key to success. Fortunately for some, the importance of this aspect leads them to great success. In some cases though, it isn’t always executed so well. In either case, there are always some great stories we can learn from.
Here we have three tales to tell, and three lessons to learn. Here is the good, the bad and, of course, the ugly of business communication.
As we inferred strongly in the introduction, good business communication is one of the keys to success. While there are so many other aspects to think about, communication is a lynch pin that often keeps a company together, and sometimes even afloat! If a business doesn’t communicate well internally, it certainly won’t succeed to communicate well to its customers. Our good tale is about both internal and external communication, and how listening is key.
A media production company from Yorkshire, England, was looking to revamp the way that it connected with the audience, but the board was struggling to come up with new ideas. Thankfully, the great level of internal communication meant that they asked their own employees, most of them younger and more connected with the market.
Communication is important in business.
Some great suggestions were put forward and a young lady on their staff proposed managing the social media side of the company’s online presence. The company loved the idea, and immersed themselves in the online world with live online Q&A, rebranding their website, tweeting, Facebooking and updating their live blog that now has thousands of followers! Don’t underestimate communication, inside and out. For the incoming telephone calls they often did not manage to answer them quickly, so configured their telephone system to overflow calls to the Office Answers virtual receptionist service if they did not answer themselves within 10 seconds.
Now that we’ve highlighted just how great business communication can be, it’s important to look at how it can go wrong. Partially as a warning and for the sake of averting the same thing in your business, but partially just for entertainment purposes. Honesty is the best policy.
Our bad tale is all about following up your conversations. Unfortunately, lots of companies fall apart because of the world famous ‘corridor chat’. When our protagonist’s boss saw him in passing on the way out to lunch, he quickly mentioned a job that was rather important. While we don’t want to generalise, women are usually great at remembering these important conversations and will even take a note of what they’ve been told and add it onto their to-do-list when they get back to their office. Men on the other hand (remember we’re generalising here) will often get back to their desk and have a tendency to forget. This young man was on his way out to lunch and met some colleagues to chat with while they took their break. Unfortunately, the young man was in a lot of trouble the next morning when the ‘urgent’ priority job wasn’t on his boss’s desk. Unfortunately for our protagonist, it wasn’t even in his memory either.
Having a good business model can help communicating it to your staff.
‘Ugly’ is never a term that should be used lightly. For the final story in this trio, however, it is the only word that accurately describes the following event. Communicating change is unavoidable. As companies grow and develop there are always changes that could be perceived as positive or sometimes negative by employees. When the management don’t properly communicate with those under them in the hierarchy, things can turn a little bit ugly.
The branch of a local building society didn’t communicate their changes all too well. They were about to close part of the branch for refurbishment, and were managing everyone’s hours and roles around the temporary layout for the few months that would be needed. The management announced that there would be changes in shifts and temporary roles, but didn’t go into much detail. Leaving information out and not being forthright with details can lead to assumptions. Somehow, rumours began among the staff that the changes meant redundancies, and the refurbishments were in fact part of the ‘downsizing’ that the company had to do. Nobody asked the managers about it, and within 2 weeks, three very insecure members of staff all agreed to hand in their notices before they were ‘fired’!
The moral of the story is: share as much as you can, and never believe a rumour before you ask; make sure you hear it from the horse’s mouth!
As the famous saying tells us, we have two ears and one mouth, meaning we should listen twice as much as we talk. In business terms, it would sometimes be helpful to remember that! Communication within a business should go in every direction, and is needed up, down and sideways. Whether you’re talking and listening to those above you, below you, or at the side, communicating as efficiently, effectively, and honestly as you can will ensure a healthy happy business team. Speak and listen, don’t overlook!
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