How Are Your Communication Breakdowns Hurting Your Bottom Line?
One of the biggest frustration that we as small business owners have (or anyone in a leadership position for that matter) is that we are not always able to get our team to execute tasks the way we would like them to do.
Depending on the circumstances this can have a direct impact on the bottom line of our business. For example we ask on of our employees to address a concern of one of our longstanding customers, but our employee does not follow the instructions that were given and we lose the customer.
Initially our own defensive reaction may be that they didn’t pay attention to our instructions, or that they simply don’t care that much to do a first class job. It can be very frustrating.
But when examining this dynamic a little bit closer, the frustration is often on both sides. Not only is the business owner frustrated, but very often the employees also experience frustration. On their end it stems more from the fact that they truly do not understand and know what is expected of them.
I strongly believe in taking the position that if I set someone up to do something and it is not being done in the way that I intended for it to happen, that it is my responsibility.
I think we can benefit from becoming more aware about the way we communicate to your employees. Below are a few points that will help you in increase the effectiveness of your communications:
1. Deliver a First Class Communication
How you communicate is a choice, but most people have a habit of treating communication as a reflex reaction based on heightened emotions, lack of intelligence, or impatiently wanting to get rid of information.
Think before you speak
Important communications need to be thought through. It is best to write down the points you need to communicate. Make sure that your communication is structured properly and that it is complete.
Here are some points to cover:
Background and Purpose of the communication
What specifically are you asking to be done?
Why this is important for them and the company?
When does it need to be done by?
How they will do it (if the how is important)?
Be Aware Of Whom You Are Speaking To
Be sure you give enough context before you deliver the main point of your communication. Never assume that the person whom you are speaking to picks up on implied, but not verbally communicated points.
Be Aware Of Your Tone Of Voice And Your Body Expressions
Always be aware of the mood and feeling that you convey in your speaking. Make sure how you speak is congruent with what you are communicating. Often times we avoid being direct by using a casual tone or language. This will certainly water down your communication and have it be less effective. You convey a great percentage of your message in your body language and tone of voice, so be aware of what you are doing!
2. Have Them Repeat Back To You
It’s your responsibility to make sure your listener understands your message 100%. The best way to ensure that is by having the listener repeat your instructions back to you. Don’t just ask if they understood what you said, because all you will get is a “Yes.” Instead have them repeat back the specific request that you make and give them permission to ask clarifying questions.
Make sure that the listener is writing down your request. Don’t ever consider a communication delivered unless the other person has at least made a note to himself or herself.
In closing, the chaos and misunderstandings caused by sloppy and incomplete communication are constantly hurting your bottom line. Even if the immediate result might not be as drastic as losing a customer, over the course of a month, a year, or the lifetime of your business, improper communication will cost you a ton of money. Do something about it!
“The meaning of your communication is the response you get.” Gregory Bateson