Communication: Five Ways to Improve Your Business
By Kate Smalley
If you've been in the business world any time at all, you're bound to have at least one story about how poor communication jeopardized or even killed part of your business. The inability to communicate has always been a challenge in companies, and the advent of technology to make communication possible 24 hours a day, seven days a week hasn't necessarily made it easier. In some ways, technology has just given us more ways to miscommunicate!
Here are five tips to improve your business through better communication. No matter whether you are the Great Communicator or a person who has a difficult time putting thoughts into words, you can get a better handle on your company and your productivity by being aware of critical communications issues.
1. Be aware of others' communications issues. Whether it's a client or a co-worker, be aware of any particular challenges they may have with communication. A co-worker who is dyslexic may be able to compensate most of the time, but it will be more difficult for her to read at the end of the day when she's tired. Leave her voice mails after 3 p.m. A customer doesn't know how to keyboard, so don't expect long emails from him. Call or meet with him when you need critical information.
2. Address your internal communications issues. Most companies have a myriad of challenges when it comes to communication, from disappearing executives who don't tell anyone where they are going to employees who don't share critical information with co-workers. Write a weekly email newsletter to keep your employees up to date on changes or issues. Make sure all employees have cell phone numbers of every staff member available at all times. Require periodic reports from uncommunicative employees.
3. Make meetings productive with an agenda and a report. Whether it's an internal staff or client meeting, keep it on track with an agenda. Nothing gets accomplished in staff meetings without a focus, and an agenda helps with that. Make sure every agenda has a short time allocated to discuss new business. After the meeting, write a report, or minutes, so everyone is on board with decisions made during your time together.
4. Get it in writing. This is a basic tenet of business, but we all forget it from time to time. Don't let someone pass you in the hall at the office and ask you to do something - tell them to send you an email. Have clients sign off on work by emailing or faxing their approval. Put everything in writing and make sure that anyone affected by actions in the document are aware of their role and that they put it in writing, too!
5. Don't rely too much on technology. Who hasn't been the victim of a crashed hard drive, a cell phone dropped in a coffee cup, a misplaced PDA or a stolen laptop? As great as technology is, backup systems are imperative. Be sure you have yours in place!
Any business guru will tell you that better communication means fewer delays, upset customers and improved productivity. That means a better bottom line and a lot fewer headaches!
About the author:
Kate Smalley, Connecticut Secretary
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