Savvy executives know that effective employee communication is equally as important as balancing the budget, turning a profit and building a devoted following on Instagram. For the last 20 years, I’ve worked with leaders across industries to improve their communication skills, and I’ve never seen such a rapid shift in workforce communication challenges as we have these past few years. Now more than ever, as hybrid and remote workplaces continue to evolve, executives must prioritize communication, with workers both inside and outside of their company, if they want to succeed.
Simply said, failed communication results in lost revenue. A recent report conducted by Grammarly and The Harris Poll estimates a $1.2 trillion annual loss among businesses due to ineffective communication. Of those surveyed, business leaders estimate a loss of 7.47 hours a week, nearly an entire day, due to poor communication. The communication gaps translated into an estimated loss of $12,506 per employee every year, according to the study—and those dollars add up fast.
The bottom line: good communication is no longer merely a wish-list skill to develop; it’s a must-have for modern leaders. It is essential for efficient and quality leadership in our ever-changing world. As an executive, what steps can you take to lead your team into the future, especially if your organization is partially or fully remote?
The topsy-turvy workplace that emerged during the pandemic taught executives the overriding importance of good communication. As businesses turned to hybrid models or switched entirely to remote operations, effective communications equaled survival of the fittest. Successful teams adopted innovations to facilitate communication in a changing workplace, such as:
- Daily check-ins in the form of videoconferencing for improved accountability
- Implementation of “shout-outs” to recognize employees’ on-the-job accomplishments
- Messaging with workplace communication tools such as Slack or Google Chat
- Use of project management tools such as Basecamp or Monday.com for organization
Ultimately, in order to successfully lead a remote team, you’ll need to implement more touchpoints than you would if your team was working in person, but not so many as to become a burden or produce redundancies. Striking the right balance might take some trial and error, but if something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change course.
Train the C-Suite
Good communication skills are necessary to achieve growth, increase profitability and improve the employee experience, and good communication starts at the top. If you aren’t able to clearly communicate your goals to your team, how can you expect them to deliver those goals? If you can’t model effective communication, how can you expect your managers and employees to communicate effectively with one another? While it may come naturally to some, communication skills may not be part of every executive’s skillset, so it is safer to train and educate everyone in the C-suite. Here are a few key skills leaders should home in on:
- Using both words and actions to communicate your message.
- Delivering your message in the appropriate context.
- Using specific metrics and goals to amplify and underscore what you want to say.
- Supporting your viewpoint with evidence and facts rather than opinions.
- Being direct and clear about what you want to discuss.
- Providing clear feedback.
- Fine-tuning your listening skills.
Outsource to the Pros
While every executive should receive communication training regardless of the company’s external communication and PR strategy, those that struggle with internal and external communications should consider outsourcing communications to a third party, such as a professional PR agency.
Let’s face it, businesses often struggle to cut through the noise and connect with managers and employees. Skilled communications professionals know how important it is to keep information flowing at all levels so everyone at your business knows what is going on and what is expected. Outsourcing your communications strategy to public relations experts is one way to meet your goals and pinpoint areas for improvement.
But before you bring any outside parties on board, ensure they can deliver samples of previous work that demonstrate they’ll be able to provide what you need. A good PR firm will talk about what it can do. A great one will show you what it can do and will have examples to back up its claims.
Ready, Set, Communicate
Company-wide communications can no longer be an afterthought. Communication is part and parcel of everything that goes on in a business and must become a priority for companies to succeed in workplaces that continue to evolve from in-person to hybrid to remote environments. While there are steps you can take today to improve your communications, ultimately, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and you must have a strategy in place for approaching communication with your team.