Communication: Boon or bane to the bottom line?
Effective communication is essential for a company to function well. In all its forms, this statement is one that we have repeatedly heard. It seems unclear as to what it actually means; this sentence says so much and yet nothing at all.
Communication is imminent, imperative and of utmost importance in all segments of a company’s arms, wings and operations. What we don’t realise is that communication is segmented by these very divisions. Let’s start with the most obvious department; the marketing and PR department. This department is in charge of communicating to the public what the company stands for and how they can be of service to them.
Internal Communication: The Divisions
Then, there is internal communication within organizations. There is great misnomer when it comes to the understanding of internal communication. The most common understanding of this term is employee engagement. While that may be true, it is a simplification of the term and excludes the roles of individual divisions. For instance, a company’s human resource division conveys to potential and new employees what is expected of them, their roles, standards and other basic protocol. The accounting and financial departments relay financial information to all relevant stakeholders of the organization providing a layman’s view to the financial health of the company. The strategy department conveys inwardly the market position of a company relative to the outside world, and in so doing, works towards ensuring that this position remains strong and unshakeable.
These separate divisions within an organization all contribute evenly towards internal communication. Any exclusion would severely handicap the operations of a company. Communication is not limited to the traditional description of active or passive, one way or two-way; particularly in organizations, it is a multi-way street. Any characterisation otherwise would not only handicap its operations but also directly impact its bottom-line.
Meetings: Effective or not?
The most common tool of choice in internal communication is meetings. A recent study has shown that the average office worker spends around 16 hours in meetings each week, and that around a quarter of this time is usually wasted. That goes to say that over a career, the total is even more alarming with the average worker sitting through around 9,000 hours of needless meetings – a full year and ten days spent wiling away precious time. It cannot be efficient for any company’s bottom line to take away their best workers from work for inefficient meetings. Bad meetings are not only a productivity drain, but they also can cause a decline in morale and a lack of confidence in leadership.
What makes a good meeting?
A meeting should only involve those concerned; no more, no less. Other than major meetings and events, meetings should be limited to 10 or fewer attendees. Not everyone can, needs or should attend a meeting. Don’t invite people to a meeting who have nothing to contribute, and don’t hold a meeting unless the key contributors can be in attendance. At this point, it is also necessary to state, that a sort of differentiation should occur. The meeting should be facilitated in a manner most relatable to the particular division, department or people involve. Content covered needs to be differentiated; not everyone needs to know everything. General meetings should be clearly sectioned to ensure that communication occurs most productively and in a way that ensures retention.
Advertising: The walkway to consumers
The bottom-line is certainly affected by more than just efficient internal communication. Consumers too play a huge role in determining the profits a company makes. And increasingly, what we are seeing is that consumers are turning away from the traditional qualities of products as well as advertisements and more to the values a company holds. There has been a shift in demand by consumers from solely corporate communication to more inclusive and relatable communication. One such example is the increased emphasis on corporate social responsibility and other such initiatives. The content that needs to be communicated through advertisements and other likened mediums has and continues to change drastically. Companies now need, what some have termed, a social license to operate and by extension remain profitable.
Communication tools are indeed a bane to the bottom-line when mobilized effectively and when constantly adjusted to suit the ever-changing business climate. Failure to differentiate and authenticate communication mediums, both internally and externally, will lead to adverse consequences on any organization’s bottom-line.