Human resources are a company’s greatest assets, but also represent a costly investment. It can be said that the success of a business is based mostly on the power of teamwork – which is closely linked to effective communication between team members. Although this may sound easy, communication has proven to be a challenge for many organizations.
Even though virtual methods of communication such as email provide a quicker way to communicate with your peers when you are not sat in the same office, the lack of human contact shows its limit. Thus poor communication is said to be costing £2.7bn a year to UK firms in growing staff turnover and sick leave. It is therefore crucial that team communication become a priority concern for firms, ensuring that their employees work to their best potential and abilities, to guarantee the prosperity of their company.
I. Common communication mistakes
When communicating with a colleague in the workplace, the same communication errors are regularly made, which can consequently harm the overall performance of a business.
1. Balance between writing too much or too little
People often don’t find the right balance between giving too much information, or not enough of it. It is indeed quite easy to ‘write a small novel’ when the subject of your email is of high importance, because you want to make sure that you will get all your points across to the receiver. Likewise, it’s also very simple to send a very short message to a colleague when you are lacking time. To avoid communication failure, you need to write a message that is clear, concise, courteous, and that contains all the elements that needs to be transmitted, in order to prevent sending numerous ‘follow-on’ emails to clarify the situation. To ensure that the message you sent is understood by the recipient, it is important to ask for feedback in case further explanation is necessary.
2. Rigid writing style
It is essential to adapt the style of writing to the receiver of the email. Unfortunately people often get in the bad habit of writing their messages in the same tone and not taking into account the relationship they have with the person on the other end (client, colleague, supplier, etc.). You should always adjust your communication style to each particular situation. When you correspond with a colleague, you have to be respectful, but leave formalities that you would use with clients behind. If you are a manager, being too formal with your co-workers – or sounding autocratic – could be an obstacle to team collaboration. Employees may feel fearful of sharing their ideas if they perceive hostility from their collaborators.
The Laswell model (“Who says What to Whom through which Channel with what Effect?”) is helpful in identifying the current situation when writing a message:
- Who? Who is the sender?
- What? What is the content that needs to be delivered in the message?
- Whom? Who is the receiver?
- Channel? What is the Medium?
- What effect? What is the purpose of the message?
Furthermore, the lack of human contact provided by a virtual method of communication means that you are missing two crucial elements: body language and voice tone, which can lead to misinterpretation of a message. For instance, a simple joke could be seen as a criticism when it is not intended to be so – because different people can interpret messages differently, and words can have several meanings. I think we’re all guilty of sending that ‘sarcastic’ text message – which didn’t get the reaction we intended and may have caused offence – the same principle applies here. Therefore, it is advised that you choose your words carefully to avoid double meanings.
3. Failure to proofread
Failing to read over what you have written prior to sending an email can lead to some misunderstanding, and could cost your company money if the details that were delivered are unclear. If the information is misleading, and then passed onto somebody else, there is a risk that incorrect data will be forwarded to the rest of the team. When you communicate with your colleagues, you should always dedicate a small section of time to proofread your message, checking carefully for any spelling mistakes that you could have made, correcting any missing punctuation, and rephrasing any sentences that could be obscure for the reader. A clear message is one that’s easy to follow.
II. Consequences of poor communication
All the elements above can affect team communication in different ways – and consequently the performance of a company. When an enterprise has internal communication problems, it causes conflict in the workplace; as a result workers become frustrated, disengaged, and can completely lose motivation. This could generate more absenteeism and an increase in personnel turnover. The cost of replacing an employee is high and several factors must be considered, such as: the time dedicated to finding a replacement; the cost of retraining the new recruit; as well as the loss of productivity (as a new employee is unlikely to be as efficient as one who has a long service record with the company). This phenomenon will create a chain reaction leading to profit loss, as pictured:
Which of the above can you familiarise with?
I am sure that we’ll all agree that poor internal communication can manifest itself in many ways – perhaps the most common being a reduction in staff morale that can have a huge knock-on effect.
III. The solution to poor communication?
Team communication requires simplicity and efficiency. We’ve designed Team Zeus to streamline companies’ internal communication, in order to improve teamwork and boost productivity. Unlike email, Team Zeus enables team conversations to take place easily and in real time; this means that even if employees are working remotely they are not isolated – instead they feel as if they are part of a well-connected, successful team.
Here are three key features of Team Zeus that help to facilitate communication between team members:
- Instant messaging: no more email shots in the dark! See who is available for a chat and converse with him/her (or them) in real time. Thanks to our friendly social platform for businesses, users can talk to their colleagues easily and in a more casual atmosphere than with emails, encouraging team collaboration.
- Edit feature: did you make a spelling mistake, or miss a word or some punctuation? Did you forget to attach a document? Thanks to Team Zeus’s edit feature, you can edit your last message by pressing the up arrow key (↑) on your keyboard. Review your message after sending it and make any changes that are necessary, lessening the possibility of confusion. And no need to send follow-on messages to clarify something!
- Describe your feelings with a smiley: with the incorporation of emoticons, users can convey their feelings and define the general tone of their message, reducing the chances of misinterpretation. But be careful of sarcasm hints!
More and more corporate organizations are ‘going global’ and may have offices in different locations, but working in a separate environment from your colleagues can be difficult at times. Team Zeus offers the perfect communication tool, enabling employees to work as closely together on a task as if they were sat in the same office talking to each other. Sign up now for a free trial to experience all the benefits of powerful team communication!