Portrait of business people discussing a new strategyWorkplace communication, in fact any communication skill was once considered to be a ‘soft’ skill. How and why this ever happened we have absolutely no idea; but any business in today’s world that considers communication to be a ‘soft’ skill, could be in for some very hard knocks.  Surveys consistently indicate that workplaces with ineffective communication practices have problems with poor employee moral. We have all had that feeling at some time or other surely – you know the one – where you look at your boss and say to yourself *sotto voce* “ok, so just treat me like a mushroom why don’t you; keep me in the dark and feed me s#*t…”!

The repercussions of poor employee moral have a direct result on business results, because it affects all performance indicators, which means it ultimately affects the bottom line. Everyone in the business hierarchy needs to have effective communication skills. Gone are the days where the qualification for a management position was the ability to be able to say “shut up and just do as I say, or your jobs on the line”. Anyone seen the movie Horrible Bosses?

So, executives, managers, supervisors and anyone communicating with employees, with regards to the business, need to know how to get the message across, and how to do this the right way. The measurable impact of poor communication with employees in any business includes but is not limited to the following, all of which are bad for business:

  • Increase in employee turnover
  • Higher absenteeism and sickness absence
  • Unhappy customers as a result of poor customer service
  • Product defect rates increase – loss of quality control
  • Lack of focus on business goals, aims or objectives
  • Subdued or lack of innovation

Doesn’t paint a very pretty picture does it?

When an employee is treated in a transparent and open manner – essentially kept informed of the aspects of their job in a genuine and professional manner, they have been found to put in an extra “discretionary effort”. This means they are also self-motivated, because they believe their own needs are being taken seriously, their opinion and input matters; they are being heard, appreciated and not merely ‘listened’ to.

Workplace communication should satisfy three basic needs for employees. These are:

To Know That …
Herein lies understanding of the organization, what the business is, knowledge of the product, who the customers are, where everything can be found for them to effectively manage their job.

To Master That…..
Herein are the practical abilities they need to be taught or equipped with in order to do their job well.

To Feel That …..
Herein are the interactions which allow the employee to feel a sense of belonging, value, trust and self-worth.

Many managers concentrate on number 1. above predominantly; whereas communication is not only on a ‘need to know’ basis. While the second basic need …Master Skills is very important, the third is the most important of them all. We have to remember we deal with human beings, just like you and I, and “To Feel That…” is what defines us as human. It is this need that drives employees, and in fact drives people, to drive themselves to outstanding achievements.

It is also the most important need where feedback is required, and yet this is the dimension where some management fears to tread. Developing a constructive communication culture “To Feel That…” in the workplace is what satisfies employees and ultimately keeps them engaged in their work productively.