Communication failure has led to losses in business. Surprisingly blue-chip companies like Coca-Cola, Nike, Wells Fargo, Starbucks, Yahoo, IHOP, Toyota, BP, and KFC have all had their fair share of losses from communication failure at different times.
The business environment, the type of business, and the drive the business owner puts into their business all contribute to success, but not without effective communication.
What is success in business, and how do you measure business success?
“Success is running a profitable firm that conducts business with honesty and integrity, makes meaningful contributions to the communities it serves, and nurtures high-quality, balanced lives for its employees, “Wilson told Business News Daily (Kiely, 2020). On this premise, an increase in profitability alone does not signify success. A combination of other factors mentioned by Kiely also contributes to success in business.
What is Communication?
Communication is defined as the process of understanding and sharing meaning (Pearson & Nelson, 2000). Pearson & Nelson's definition of communication connotes that the inputs (words and actions) to every communication exercise must undergo a transformation process (understanding and sharing) that will lead to a meaningful end.
How is this communication process necessary for business success?
The communication process is the conversion that is needed to elicit a positive response or relationship in business. For instance, when a Salesman markets his offer (service or product), he only succeeds when his target experiences that moment of truth from the Salesman's ability to communicate.
Communication is a two-way process. It is about passing information from one person to another. So both the sender and the receiving of the message are important (Skills You Need, n.d.). Let us consider the following scenarios for a better grasp of communication attributes. And then move on to business communication skills in detail.
The first time Olivia used software project management, she knew that she was close to being awarded the contract. Before her presentation, she did background checks on her evaluation team and found out that her presentation could be an eye-opener to them. During her presentation, she demystified her project’s complexities. Well enough to convince her evaluation team to give her the job.
Content and mode of delivery are essential for effective communication. Always use relevant content and the best available medium to communicate your message to the understanding and appreciation of your receiver.
When Isabella received the addendum to a bid, she immediately forwarded it to the Quantity Surveyor for review and update. She concentrated on the areas that were affected and highlighted them for the Quantity Surveyor, also noting the bid submission deadline, but omitted the time of submission. When asked what time it was for the submission by the Dispatcher, Isabella retorted, it is the same time. To her surprise, the dispatcher was late for submission by about two hours after the bid opening had started, and her company could not participate in the bidding.
Effective communication is devoid of assumptions, misinterpretation, and misgivings. Never assume what other people think, their intentions, or other essential facts that are supposed to be verified and validated.
The toner chips kept burning because Joan's colleagues neglected her advice to observe the warning signs and avoid looming dangers. The company kept paying more for preventable repairs because no one was liable for the never-ending negligence.
Without responsibility, communication is incomplete. Someone has to be in charge of communication for it to be effective. Otherwise, the desired response is far–fetched.
It took the board 2-weeks, back and forth, to agree on reframing the entire IT infrastructure because of a vital omission neglected during requirements gathering, which a customer insisted should be included. Eventually, the project delivery slipped by a significant duration, and the organization had to fire some good hands after it recorded a substantial loss.
When it comes to a contract, it is best to write it down, verify it and authenticate it to avoid varying degrees of liabilities during and after execution.
Ken still uses the manual system of recording and filing. For him, whatever is on the stock card is unquestionable. He updates the marketing manager with 20 dozen water bottles. But the driver and the dispatcher found only 13 dozen water bottles at the warehouse.
Communication is real-time, and the best way to achieve that is to use state-of-the-art technology. The effect of data inefficiency could be devastating for a firm that relies on daily patronage to survive in a highly competitive terrain. The right data must be available to process the right information for the right decision to be taken.
Garry's NGO invited a motivational speaker to take leadership training. Ken was an acclaimed academician with a background in psychology. His speech had enough leadership theories such that his audience clapped at his eloquence and confidence. Astonishingly, the feedback from Ken’s audience was far from it. They complained that they could not relate his teachings to the challenges they faced at their jobs.
The expectation of the target audience is essential in communication. There is always a disconnection when the message has no relevance to the receiver. The message should make meaning to the receiver such that the receiver will be willing to apply it, and achieve the expected results.
Mia trusted him so much because he was her friend. They have been doing business for more than seven years, and he has never had issues with the company. He was a supplier with a good track record, but this time was different. Guy submits his invoice without actually supplying. Mia issues a check based on affiliation without confirming from the store for receipt and condition. Days later, the Workshop is yet to receive the Turbocharger; there is none in the store because Guy did not deliver any.
Communication and relationship may interplay in business, but it is necessary to set business policies and boundaries to guide actions that prevent lapses from affiliations.
One word that describes effective communication is thoughtfulness. Where the sender of the message will have to think for everyone and act accordingly to elicit the desired response.
For effective communication business men and women must maintain a cordial relationship with stakeholders irrespective of their social status. And they should also have a flexible and engaging communication approach that will accommodate stakeholder interest and diversity.
In essence, entrepreneurs must identify and constantly satisfy the communication needs of their stakeholders for success in business.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.