When we launch a company, we try to prepare for everything: we fine tune our product, identify our revenue streams, our costs, competitors, potential partners, we build a nice plan, get financing, create a strategy, adapt the strategy, stress, lose sleep, make a sale, go back to no-sales-land, stress some more, make another sale and so on – an entrepreneurial circle of hope and dreams. Most of us fail at least once and understanding WHY is essential to any future venture. Oh and by the way, it’s ok to say fail – it’s not the word that has a negative connotation, but the meaning we give it: to me, failure is the most amazing opportunity to learn, reshape, recalibrate, reset, restart. We should be grateful for our failures.
Now, going back to our topic, there are many factors hiding behind a failed entrepreneurial attempt, but I think that one – if not the most underestimated reason is deficient communication. Why is that? Well, I found 10 reasons:
1. Communication is not perceived as a potential issue
More frequently than not, entrepreneurs are too busy or focused on developing their companies to realise how much of a set-back deficient communication can be. Building a business means building culture and reputation. It starts with the first e-mails and phone calls, with the first meeting, with the first handshake, which is why acknowledging its importance as from the pre-launch phase can save us a lot of time, money and energy later.
2. Communication is disregarded during growth periods
In business, growth can be sudden and very dynamic, so management will usually concentrate all efforts on onboarding people and getting the job done, to keep the money coming in. Great! In practice though, ignoring communication rarely remains without consequences. Especially during challenging times, with tight deadlines and increased stress, people tend to be more direct, to pay less attention to vocabulary and generally care less about their behaviour. I’ve seen it a lot: well composed professionals who, during a rough time, would lose it and generate chaos around them.
No matter how dynamic the growth of the company is, always find some time to address communication and help people interact as efficiently as possible.
3. Red flags are ignored
Communication red flags, that is. They’re everywhere, all around us: an eyebrow raised in disapproval during a staff meeting, three exclamation points at the end of a written sentence, an awkward silence where there should have been a reaction and so on. Any manifestation that negatively affects open, transparent, clear, argued and kind communication, is a red flag and ideally, will be noticed and constructively addressed. Similarly, behaviours displaying efficient communication will ideally be noticed and praised, to reinforce the connection with the team members because, let’s not forget, we all hope and deserve to be appreciated.
4. Communication impacts company culture
Well, yeah. I mean, inefficient communication will eventually spread around like a deadly disease and kill all the fun at work.
We talk a lot about company culture, but what does it mean? More than sharing the same values, principles, vision, objectives and all the other corporate
BS inspiring terms, isn’t it all about simply enjoying being there and interacting each other? Communication is always a choice and it’s up to each of us to make the right one. At the same time, choosing not to address those red flags will certainly have a negative impact on the work environment, relationships and the overall sense of well-being of our teams.
When, on the other hand, we do address them, magic happens: we finally start creating a healthy, sustainable work environment, where people have a voice, collaborate, build and share the same values, principles, vision, objectives.
5. People leave (part 1)
It’s a fact, employee loyalty has dramatically decreased, especially these past years and it’s getting harder and harder for companies to retain talent.
Here’s a shocker: people only leave when they are not happy. That’s it. What makes them happy? For some, it’s the money, for others, the days off or the benefits, but for all of us will always be that heart-warming feeling of being useful. And how do we know we’re useful? By being told so. We know it when we feel appreciated.
Now, here comes the tricky part: what happens when someone is not really useful? Can they still be happy? Kind reminder here: hire for attitude, not for skills. The right attitude combined with the right type of management can’t go wrong. People need to have a voice and feel heard, which means that someone is actually listening to them, then help them grow, evolve, improve and eventually become truly useful.
6. People talk
You knew that one, right? People talk about their colleagues, work problems, their managers, business collaborators and client. People talk about basically everything.
So, when they’re unhappy and leave, then talk, it affects your company from an employer branding perspective – meaning it will hurt your reputation and people won’t come work for you. They will go work for your competitors and help them make a lot of money.
So, to sum up: improving communication makes people happy, it makes them stay, it makes you rich.
7. Communication affects your company’s reputation on the market
Deficient communication gets people frustrated and in this case, by people I mean your clients.
When we pay for a product or a service, we expect quality and a pleasant interaction in exchange. On long term, the nature of our communication with clients, but also with business (potential) partners will define our reputation on the market and significantly contribute to the “make it or brake it” of our company. Lack of response, poorly written e-mails or messages, rudeness – these all contribute to an erosion of reputation and, inevitably, to the next point.
8. People leave (part 2)
Customer loyalty seems to be a dying breed, but I believe we can change that. I honestly believe that people stay for people, in addition to a good product and customer retaining strategies. We form a connection with the humans behind the screen and this connection has the extraordinary ability to last.
So, assess the quality of the conversations your teams have with your clients. Listen to some of those conversations: are they empathic? Are they delivering clear messages? Is the tone of voice friendly and kind? Would you come back? Assess, remediate, praise.
9. People leave (part 3)
Building a strong network is still in fashion. Giving away business cards, no so much anymore, but connecting with people who could eventually become business partners and help you take your company to a whole new level, yes.
And guess what plays a huge role in building and maintaining those valuable relationships? Yep, communication, again.
Work ethics and business etiquette are decisive in establishing connections, of course, but so is the quality of our communication. Remember: it’s not important what you know, but who you know!
10. Communication is rarely properly addressed
It might seem like an easy task to train your teams to improve communication and yet, its complexity is surprising. One can’t teach empathy or kindness, we have to experience them, to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and for a precious moment look at life from a different angle, with a different mindset.
Improvisation theatre does that. It allows us to be someone else for a little while, therefore enhancing empathy and opening the door for the real changes in communication. Benefits? Increased self-confidence, higher levels of emotional intelligence, a more accurate self-assessment, healthier relationships, a better work environment, happier teams, more productive people, loyalty, joy, sunshine and music 🙂
Can I help you with any information or ideas about how to improve communication within your teams? Let’s talk!