The Workplace Communication Primer
Why is it important to communicate effectively in the workplace?
It is important to communicate effectively in the workplace because effective communication can motivate employees to work hard towards a mutual goal. With effective communication, the work environment becomes efficient and effective as well, especially when people need to work in groups to accomplish a task. People in the workplace need to exchange information on many different aspects of work that needs to be done including, but not limited to, what needs to be done, who will do which part, how it should be done, when it needs to be done, what resources will be needed to get it done and why it needs to be done. Systems for ensuring effective communication in the workplace should be established. For example, regularly scheduled meetings and informative memos will ensure that people discuss their projects with each other at the meetings and any new information that needs to be communicated to employees right away can be with memos.
Effective communication also increases workplace efficiency and productivity. This is the result of less loss of time having to explain work or procedures repeatedly. Many workplaces exhibit poor productivity due to the misunderstanding of projects or procedures. Research has consistently shown that workplaces that exhibit quality communication also maintain more productive and efficient work environments (Hellweg & Phillips, 1982).
The Costs of Communication
There are no costs of effective communication because the results of effectively communicating with each other include more efficient problem-solving, task management, and work groups. With poor communication the costs can be detrimental. Employees may not feel the need to work hard on a particular project because they do not understand why the project needs to be done or how to complete it. Without effective communication employees can become unmotivated towards their work in general because they do not feel united with the understanding of a common goal. The benefits of improving communication are numerous — employees understand the when, why, what, and how something should be done, their work becomes more efficient, groups communicating with each other solve problems faster and more efficiently, and the company could benefit as well due to higher morale and increased profits from more efficient work processes.
Today using electronic communications presents other issues such as opportunity cost. While managing email, social media, and text messages has obvious time saving properties, it can also present a loss of time. How much time are we spending writing emails and texts? Are all of these communications worth the time being put into them? Questions like these pose a problem that might be overlooked in that we are losing time and opportunities to do other projects because of the time lost in these communications.
Understanding Organizational Messages
Organizational messages communicate the nature of your organization, including its activities, purpose, goals, uniqueness and target population. These messages have multiple audiences including people employed by the organization, potential funders, volunteers, and public agencies. All organizational messages should communicate clearly to any audience what your organization is and does, and why it is important. But particular audiences can be analyzed and targeted so that the message has maximum effectiveness for that audience. For funders, for example, a particular project the organization is working on may be emphasized because that project coincides with the interests of the potential funders. More business and investment jargon may be used for potential funders than in the organizational message for potential volunteers who are more interested in how their efforts will help the cause of the organization rather than how their money will be used to fund the cause of the organization.
Another method of analyzing the audience for message clarity is to use a stakeholder analysis technique. From this angle one would examine the audience from the questions of what they need from the communication or what they are looking for in a message. In this way, the messenger is directly targeting the audience and tapping into its needs.
First, you have to learn more about your target audience. If the audience is within the organization, such as employees, they are already aware of many of the aspects of the organization from work experience and would probably not benefit from a long message about the basics of what the organization does. Employees would benefit from a message about how their work has positively affected the growth of the company in order to keep morale boosted and productivity levels up. For potential funders, a message that includes financial information and investment details would be beneficial, but the general public would not need this information or benefit from it.
This area of analysis needs to use a stakeholder view. By analyzing the needs of the audience, this will determine the benefit of the message. Asking questions such as what is the audience expecting or looking or what are the audience’s needs. These questions reveal the information that the intended audience will likely benefit from and focus the communication. Focusing the communication also has the added benefit of keeping the attention of the audience because they will desire to hear what is being said. This is due to the fact that the message concerns them.
Tailoring messages often means writing messages to different audiences with the same needs which means keeping the main message for both audiences. For example, if two different groups are working on the same project and one is working more effectively than the other, both groups would need to be talked to. The effective group’s message would be positive and encouraging to keep up the good work because the project has a deadline that is approaching. The ineffective group’s message would also include the main point that the project has a deadline that is approaching, but the message would be framed by a more stern attitude and would also include ideas for the team to try that might make them more effective and productive.
Communication to different audiences involves being aware of the groups commonalities. For instance, a communication for changes in a hospital policy might have the same message for doctors and nurses, but the perspective of the communication might be different. Doctors might be enforcing a new policy while nurses might be carrying it out. It is essentially the same message being conveyed but from two different perspectives.
Hellweg , S., & Phillips, S. (1982). Communication and productivity in organizations . Public Productivity Review , 6(4), 276–288.
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Triola Vincent. Fri, Feb 26, 2021. How to be a more effective communicator in the workplace. Retrieved from https://vincenttriola.com/blogs/ten-years-of-academic-writing/how-to-be-a-more-effective-communicator-in-the-workplace