The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
What is Business Communication?
To put it simply, business communication refers to how information is shared by employees within the business and with people outside it. When we talk about the effectiveness of communication, we mean how it contributes towards achieving an organizational goal and improving existing practices. You will find it essential for several tasks, including:
- Business plans
- Decision making
- Internal communication
You might be telling yourself right now, of course, it’s important for these things, why are you telling me this? The various tasks we listed seem like everyday business tasks, which should serve to emphasize just how important it is to standardize the rules of communication for them. How you email your family differs from how you would email your boss. Depending on the culture of your company, you might have to put more time into remembering the correct way to address executives or subordinates. When communicating with customers, you will find certain types of communication are more effective with others, especially when considering the industry you work in. A customer might expect more details from a law company than they would from a delivery company.
All these little details add up, so it is important for the executives of a business to set up the “rules of engagement,” so to speak. Rather than having to monitor and correct every single message that is exchanged, it is easier to list out a set of expectations for employees to adhere to and be made aware of only when those rules are diverged from.
Principles of Communication
Let us consider some principles that most companies would consider for their communication style:
In business, there is always a point to your communication. There is no need to waste time on unnecessary jargon or niceties. Implement brevity in your communication so there is no space for distraction.
Again, there is a point to why you are sending this message. If something needs to be done, make sure that this need stands out. Consider the purpose, medium, and method of your communication, then create it.
Language style is important. If you choose to be friendly in your messages, or strictly professional, make sure you carry on using that tone of conversation for all future messages. People will read the subtext in your message more than you intended, and that can be a headache.
The more you communicate, the greater the likelihood of being caught up in endless message chains. While they are likely to happen, it is also effective to keep in mind that what you want should be contained within one message, and it is not necessary to refer to ten other emails.
Building on the previous point, consider who is relevant to your email and why they should receive it. If it has to do with design, only the design department should receive it. Messaging multiple people can be complicated and aggravating if done thoughtlessly, so consider who it is relevant to.
Assumptions can kill a conversation. Just because you may know something doesn’t mean others would. Consider how your team might have certain lingo you use, but using that same lingo with someone from another department means either time wasted on clarification or a complete misinterpretation.
This can be the most important to some. Regardless of how you might be feeling at the time, it is important to be courteous. Using the appropriate title and sign-off can completely shift the mood of a conversation and also make your life easier.
The points above work for most businesses, and you are already likely to think about them subconsciously. The longer you work, however, you might start thinking about them. If you start working with international clients, for example, you will find what is respectful for you might be too personal for others. That is why the heads of a business need to codify their communication style, for the sake of their business and their employees.
The rules we discussed can be timeless and should be the foundation of how a business method of communication is formed. Nevertheless, there is always room for progress, particularly regarding digital innovations. In just these past 2 decades, technological advances have reshaped the way communication is conducted, whether in regards to its speed or how far you can communicate. The consensus is that you have to stay ahead of the curve. Being informed of what innovation is changing the game or even experimenting yourself.
Below are some trends or ideas to consider when developing the tools through which your business will communicate.
1. Hybrid work
At first essential during the mandatory quarantine, there has been a rise in the popularity of the hybrid workforce. A Forbes survey showed that 37% of employees feel that a work-from-home option is important, even for those whose roles are in-house.
With an increasing number of employees valuing the flexibility to work from home, companies need to adapt by creating a robust infrastructure that supports this mixed model effectively.
Key considerations should include
Ensure that employees can access high-speed internet and the necessary hardware to work efficiently from any location. This might involve providing laptops, ergonomic workstations, or allowances to set up a home office.
Digital collaboration tools
Invest in reliable and secure collaboration platforms. Tools like Slack for communication, Zoom for video conferencing, and Asana or Trello for project management can bridge the gap between remote and in-office teams.
Clear communication protocols
Develop clear guidelines for communication. This includes setting expectations around response times, preferred communication channels for different types of queries, and guidelines for virtual meeting etiquette.
Work-Life balance policies
Establish policies that respect the boundaries between work and personal time. This is crucial to prevent burnout among employees who work from home and can struggle to disconnect from work.
Implement regular check-ins and virtual team meetings to maintain team cohesion and ensure everyone is aligned with the company’s goals.
Training and support
Provide training for employees to adapt to digital tools and remote working practices. Also, ensure IT support is available to troubleshoot any technical issues swiftly.
Create channels for employees to provide feedback on their remote working experience. This input is vital to continuously improve the hybrid work model and tailor it to meet the evolving needs of your workforce.
Embracing these strategies can make your company more attractive to current and prospective employees and ensure that your team remains productive, engaged, and connected, irrespective of their physical work location.
2. Streamline communication
In this case, you can say less is more. If your employees are using multiple apps and email to communicate with different people, it is a time waste. In an age where many communication tools are available, curating a toolkit that best suits your organizational needs is vital.
Reducing the number of platforms to a select few prevents the fragmentation of information and minimizes the time spent switching between apps. By choosing a unified SaaS tool, you can centralize communications, creating a single source of truth that is easily accessible to all team members. This centralization not only streamlines the flow of information but also ensures that messages are consistent and coherent. It’s also important to establish clear guidelines on which tool to use for different types of communication, such as quick queries versus formal announcements. This clarity helps in maintaining a neat, organized communication flow, ultimately leading to a more productive and less stressful work environment.
3. Video conferencing
As a company becomes larger and more international, video conferencing becomes essential. It bridges geographical divides, facilitating real-time collaboration and fostering a sense of community among remote teams. When used judiciously, video conferencing can enhance decision-making and team cohesion.
However, do not overdo it. Many people say, “That could’ve been an email,” and sometimes they may be right. It’s important to balance its use with other communication forms. Over-reliance on video calls can lead to ‘Zoom fatigue’, reducing their effectiveness. Consider when a video conference call is most effective and use it appropriately. Clear guidelines on when and how to use video conferencing can optimize its benefits, ensuring that meetings are purposeful, concise, and augment rather than impede workflow.
This applies more to customer communication. Incorporating chatbots for customer communication enhances efficiency and ensures consistent, round-the-clock service. It is important to ensure that your customer base feels heard, but it might be difficult to correctly prioritize which tasks are more demanding than others. By intelligently handling routine inquiries, chatbots free up employee time for complex, high-value interactions. A well-designed and implemented chatbot can take some of that burden off your employees and help streamline communication.
They also gather valuable data, providing insights into customer preferences and behavior, thereby enabling more personalized and effective communication strategies in the future.
5. Using AI
Many employees today have either experienced or heard about how AI is improving internal communication. The basis of it is that the program has processed vast amounts of information to give you the most optimal answer, so it can be extremely useful for standardizing communication. It can also help with meeting transcripts and customer communication. As useful as it seems though, remember to keep the individuality of your business and encourage original communication when applicable.
As we integrate AI into our communication strategies, it’s vital to ensure transparency, protect privacy, and maintain authenticity. We must balance efficiency with empathy, respecting the nuances of human interaction while safeguarding data integrity and avoiding biases in AI algorithms.
These are just some of the many benefits technology can bring to your business communication. You need to take the time to consider what kind of culture your business has and what would best fit that. Then, research what tools fit those criteria and implement them.
In conclusion, effective business communication in 2024 is a balance between timeless principles and embracing technological advancements. The integration of tools and strategies that align with your business culture is key. As you explore the plethora of options available, consider the different tools Profit.co offers to enhance communication and achieve your business goals. Sign up today and explore how Profit.co simplifies OKR communication, ensuring that your objectives and key results are communicated effectively across your organization.