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Communication plays a fundamental role in our daily lives.
And yet the art of communication at work is somewhat of a mystery to certain people.
For some, good communication comes naturally, but for others, it can be hard to articulate their thoughts and feelings in conversation, often leading to conflict and fundamental errors.
So, whether you’re an effective communicator or not, it’s essential to understand the importance of good communication and how it can help you move forward in the working world.
What is effective workplace communication?
Effective communication in the workplace is an integral element of a business’s success; it enhances relationships within the company and with clients, and it increases employee engagement and the overall effectiveness of a team.
On the other hand, when teams fail to communicate effectively, the results are detrimental to the business. In fact, research by US firm Gartner shows a whopping 70% of business mistakes are due to poor communication. This statistic proves just how critical communication is to job training and why more emphasis should be put on clear instructions and conversations to prevent mistakes from happening within the workplace.
Want to become a better communicator? Join Wharton School’s Improving Communication Skills course over on Coursera.
Why is good communication important in the workplace?
To demonstrate just how important good communication is at work, we’ve listed some of the benefits it can have on your professional life.
1. It improves team building
Honest and effective communication can create a strong team. When staff consult with each other, consider other opinions and discuss their progress, they will be more enthused to collaborate. As a result, the strong unit that they create makes the workplace more enjoyable, and they will be eager to perform well so they don’t let their teammates down.
Indeed, communication helps solve employee morale issues by keeping entire teams in the loop, making all team members feel useful within the workplace. This lack of secrecy not only boosts team spirit but it also has a positive effect on staff attitudes.
See also: Benefits of Teamwork in the Workplace
2. It boosts growth
Great communication contributes to the growth of the business, which goes hand in hand with your career. It eliminates uncertainties and speeds up the process of policies to ensure there is a smooth delivery of projects.
Take eCommerce website Zappos, for example; their ethos relies on great communication within the organisation and with their clients – something that earned them a spot on Fortune magazine’s 2015 list of the 100 best companies to work for.
3. It increases innovation
If employees are scared of communicating their thoughts and ideas out of fear of being rejected, then they are likely to become stagnant in their career and only contribute the bare minimum. However, if there is an open line of communication between supervisors and staff members, they are encouraged to be more creative and innovative within the workplace, and they are likely to put forth new and creative ideas.
In today’s fast-moving workplace, most ideas are likely to be pushed under the carpet due to a lack of communication. As Cisco managing director Alex Goryachev writes on Forbes: ‘People listen mostly to respond rather than to understand. However, digitisation demands active listening to the ecosystem in order to survive and develop collaborative strategies with startups, partners and customers around the world’.
4. It improves productivity
Being able to communicate effectively at work can help increase overall productivity. Managers can understand their employees’ talents and skills and will then give clear directions to the people that are best suited for the job, thus increasing the overall turnaround time of any given project.
For example, one colleague may be faster and better at using Excel than others; therefore, through communication, a manager can identify this and task them with managing the spreadsheets. If there was a lack of conversation, meanwhile, the project would suffer, and the entire process would slow down, negatively affecting the goal of the company, as a result.
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5. It increases efficiency
Poor communication compromises efficiency, as well as the overall quality of work. When instructions aren’t provided clearly, mistakes are bound to happen. On the other hand, clear instructions eliminate the need to clarify and correct any issues.
Think back to a time where you didn’t communicate well with a colleague. It probably resulted in wasted time, effort and resources. So, if you happen to have a manager that doesn’t communicate effectively, make sure you ask the right questions to get the information that you need to successfully complete a project. Over time, they will understand what they should be supplying you with so you can start working on your tasks.
See also: Ways to Improve Efficiency at Work
6. It increases loyalty
When you have a good line of communication with management, you’re naturally going to be more loyal to the organisation. You will feel comfortable discussing any professional or personal issues, and you’ll be more committed to the company.
This free line of communication also builds trust between a manager and an employee, which results in a loyal relationship. A two-way line of respect ensures there’s no micromanagement involved and that an employee is trusted to get on with the job that they were hired to do.
7. It reduces mitigation conflict
Two people in the workplace may feel that they are communicating well, but because they both have different methods of communication, they are misunderstanding each other. Therefore, working with different personalities requires excellent communication skills to limit any conflict in the workplace.
If you are experiencing conflict at work, it’s important to look beyond the issue at hand and identify the other person’s thought process. You need to consider the communication pattern of the receiver to get a better understanding of what they are trying to say.
8. It increases employee engagement
Good communication goes far beyond talking; it’s more about connecting and engaging with others. When teams are engaged, they are more aligned with the company’s goals and are generally more motivated to work towards the set targets.
It’s also easier for managers to identify what makes a positive and satisfying working environment, allowing them to work towards achieving a balanced working life for their employees.
Wish to be a better team player? Enrol in University of Colorado Boulder’s Teamwork Skills: Communicating Effectively in Groups course.
9. It resolves problems
There’s bound to be characters that clash and opinions that differ within any working environment. And what’s the best way to solve those problems? Clear communication!
Effective communication isn’t about who’s right and wrong; it’s about having open, honest and positive discussions to ensure everyone’s needs are met! You’re not always going to see eye to eye with your work nemesis, but if you can find a way to work well with them, you’ll make the environment much more enjoyable for everyone around you!
See also: How to Solve Problems at Work
10. It enhances skills
Managers can identify hidden talents when they communicate clearly with their employees. By doing so, they can tap into these skills and help enhance them, which will contribute to the overall success of the business.
For example, John may be hired as a customer service representative, but through conversation, his manager identifies that he has previous experience in marketing. John is then transferred to Marketing and is much better suited at the position. If the lack of communication were there, however, John would have become stagnant later down the line, and the business would have lost great talent.
In every aspect of your job, you’ll be required to communicate in one way or other. It’s important to understand just how valuable effective communication is and what impact it can have on your relationships and your progression within the working world.
Further workplace reading:
- How to Be More Professional at Work
- The Importance of Interpersonal Skills in the Workplace
- Mindset Shifts to Be Happier at Work
Join the discussion! Why do you think good communication is important in the workplace? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 5 January 2015.