2 Why is communication important in the workplace?
To start, watch this video of Rebecca Fielding, an experienced recruiter and owner of talent consultancy Gradconsult, explaining the importance of communication skills in the workplace.
For all organisations, ensuring effective communication is essential. This includes both internal communication with staff and external communication, e.g. with customers or suppliers.
For the purposes of this course, you’ll focus primarily on internal communication, although much of the content will be equally relevant to communicating with customers.
As you’ve already seen in the previous discussion about job satisfaction and productivity, effective communication gives clear benefits to the individual, but there are significant benefits for the organisation too.
If communication is poor, reduced job satisfaction and productivity can have a significant impact on the business.
For example, when 4,000 people were surveyed by Think Feel Know Coaching, 46% said that they were ‘unsure of what was being asked of them by their line manager when given tasks’. The same study estimated that up to 40 minutes per individual, per day were wasted because of this. Using these figures, an average company with 1,000 employees could have as many as 83 people doing nothing every day (Woods, 2010).
When there is uncertainty or change within an organisation, employees can feel ill-informed about the effects on their roles. If their concerns are not addressed and vital information is not communicated, staff morale will be affected. This can lead to a lack of trust and engagement, which can result in low productivity and absenteeism.
For an organisation to embrace effective communication, every individual must play their part – from senior managers to new trainees.
Sometimes, miscommunication is the problem. To avoid this, the video in Activity 2 suggests some simple rules.
Activity 2 Miscommunication
Watch the following TedEd video on miscommunication. When you’ve watched it, use the box below to summarise your understanding of the four practices they suggest.
The four practices suggested are as follows:
- Recognise that there is a difference between passive hearing and active listening.
- Listen with your eyes and ears as well as your gut.
- Take time to understand the perspective of the person/people you are talking to.
- Try to be aware of your own perceptual filters.
The next time you are discussing a difficult issue with a group of colleagues, try to put these ideas into practice. You could even share them with the rest of the group. See if it makes a difference.
You’ll learn more about active listening in Week 2.
When considering how to improve your overall communication skills, it can be useful to have an understanding of the theory behind the communication process itself. In the next section, you’ll explore this in more detail.