Workplace communication is one of the very first skills you’ll need to master in any new job. How you communicate with your teammates, your manager, your boss, and even the person at the front desk can have a huge impact on your team coherence, work performance, job satisfaction and the longevity of your career. Let’s look at what constitutes workplace communication and why it’s so important to communicate effectively.
Communication in the workplace
Whether it’s direct communication in an email, instant messaging on the company intranet, talking to your colleagues around the lunch table, or how you communicate non-verbally with your manager – communication is defined as any method of transferring a message or information from one person (sender) to another (receiver). Effective communication happens when the receiver receives and understands the message exactly as the sender intended it. This requires a clear method of sending a message – be it concise writing skills for email, clear enunciation for face-to-face communication, and an understanding of how body language and facial expression help to convey your message. Effective communication also requires good listening skills, which means the receiver is 100% focussed on the sender’s message (not being distracted by their thoughts or other background noise) and is also able to receive non-verbal cues.
But why is effective communication so crucial in the workplace?
1. Effective communication improves productivity
If you are required to complete a project with the rest of your team, your manager should provide you with a clear and well-explained brief that details all the specifications of the project: who is required to produce what, by when, and according to which guidelines? If the brief is communicated thoroughly and leaves no questions unanswered in terms of what’s required to complete the project on time and on budget, the project should run smoothly with everyone delivering their outputs in time. The team works well together because you all understand your role and what’s required.
If anyone on the team is sick or they’re not working as fast as the rest of the team, they should be able to communicate openly with their teammates and manager; to ask for help or for further guidelines so that the team isn’t adversely affected. Without effective and open communication, team productivity and morale will be on the line.
2. Effective communication bridges the diversity gap
South African work environments are highly diverse. Teams can be made up of people who speak different languages, come from different cultural backgrounds, practise different religions, different sexual orientation, and cross generational lines. All of these factors will have an influence on the work environment and how teammates perceive each other. Effective communication serves the purpose of conveying messages with respect, integrity, and purpose. If diversity is what sets people’s individuality apart from each other, then the agreement on how we communicate is what bridges that divide: speaking and writing clearly and formally in English, for instance, is the common ground that will help the company to reach its common goal irrespective of the workforce’s diversity.
3. Effective communication boosts job satisfaction
A large part of job satisfaction is feeling challenged and improving your skills with each new project you work on. As an employee, you should not only be able to communicate effectively and build trust with your teammates, as well as communicate upwards with your manager, but you should also be able to receive downward communication from your superiors – in the form of feedback. Being able to accept constructive criticism and to improve your skills and work quality can lead to a highly rewarding career with lucrative future prospects. If you are sensitive to feedback or take it personally when your manager or peers critique your work, you will quickly find that your job becomes difficult or stale.
4. Effective communication aids problem solving
The point of effective communication is to minimise the number of misunderstandings and problems in a team and in the company. That’s not to say that if we all communicate via email in perfect written English that there will be no problems. When problems do arise – a client is unhappy, a project is running over time, someone gets injured on the job, etc. – your level of accountability or your ability to mitigate the problem is only half of the solution; the other half is how these factors are communicated. If you’ve messed up and you immediately own up to it as well as provide a solution to your bungle, you will earn people’s respect for being honest and for wanting to fix your errors, without blaming others.
Now that you are aware of the importance of effective communication in the workplace, consider how your own workplace communication – whether you’re in an finance job, a IT job, or engineering job, – impacts your team, your job satisfaction, and the level of trust you earn amongst your teammates and with your manager. Are you communicating effectively?
Are you in the market for a new job? Communicate Personnel is a recruitment specialist with vacancies in the Finance, IT, Engineering, Supply Chain and Freight industries. Visit our website and apply, our consultants are waiting to help you.