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Opinions Sat, 21 Jun 2014

Effective business communication: A vital stratagem in 21st century entrepreneurship

Communication scholars like Prof. Ansu-Kyeremeh have noted that communication is sine qua non for development –‘No communication, no development.’

Communication is one of the organizational functions that help a company to stay efficient and productive. One of the more important forms of organizational communication is inter-departmental communication where information flows among various departments in the organisation. Anytime such chain of communication breaks, the entire operations of the organisation suffers.  Implementing policies to strengthen inter-departmental communication helps to accentuate its importance and maintain an efficient flow of information.

Effective Communication is momentous for managers in organizations. It helps them to perform the basic functions of management, that is, Planning, Organizing, Directing, Controlling and Evaluating. Thus, communication helps managers to execute their responsibilities efficiently. It serves as a guide for the planning and execution of the entire operations of the organisation. To achieve any meaningful goal, essential information must flow top down to subordinate and vice versa. It is only by efficacious business communication that effective control is induced.

Usually, business activities are divided into two __ internal and external. The internal activities may comprise: maintaining and improving the morale of employees, giving instructions to workers, defining methods and procedures, promulgating policies and organizational changes, and keeping the management clued up. The external activities involve selling and obtaining goods and services, reporting to the board and the shareholders on the financial state and business operations, and creating a congenial environment for conducting businesses. It is important to note that to achieve both activities, effective and efficient business communication is indispensable.

Business communication is therefore the use of effective language for the transmission of business-related or industrial message between an organisation and its publics to achieve an intended goal.

Business communication defines most organizations, leading to effective marketing campaigns, fruitful interpersonal relationships among co-workers and successful customer service relation. It behoves effective business communication professionals to tailor messages that take cognisance of audiences’ idiosyncrasies for maximum outcomes.

Managers spend much time engaging in a lot of communication activities. These encapsulate face to face, telephonic or written communication (in form of letters, reports or memos) with superiors, subordinates, colleagues, customers or suppliers.

Effective communication therefore, acts as the very ‘blood’ of an organisation’s success.

The Need for Communication

Effective communication in an organisation has been identified to be crucial for the following reasons:

Trust

A two-way asymmetric accurate and efficient communication between various departments in an organisation culminates in trust building within the organisation. When there is trust among departments in respect of the accuracy of information delivered, it helps eschew the extra fact-checking step that retards productivity. In effect, information shared between departments should be reliable and lead to an enhanced operational efficiency.

Efficiency

When there is accurate and swift exchange of information between departments it enhances productivity and helps meet sales projections and get product to distribution points. Information exchange allows for a productive exchange between engineering and marketing about the release of a new product and gets information on prospective employment candidates to the human resources department. A company is likely to suffer revenue loss if the marketing department fails to inform the production team of an increase or decrease in demand of a particular product There is no doubt that an improved communication system leads to efficiency in the overall operation of an organization.

Customer Service

In an organisation where inter-departmental communication is poor, customer service can suffer. Many organisations in Ghana are losing clients because of poor service which is actually an antecedent of poor inter-departmental communication. Where communication is not given any priority in an organisation, customers keep moving from one organisation to the other in search of good customer service. For example, if a client continues to receive the wrong item already paid for because the transport department and the delivery/marketing department did not coordinate effectively then there is the risk of losing repeat business with that same client. So, to retain clients and guarantee the flow of repeat business, a high level customer service must be maintained. When the departments in your organisation are efficiently sharing information, then clients can be properly attended to, which will eventually improve customer service induce customer loyalty.

Conflict

Like any union, a breakdown in communication at any point in the organization can result in conflict. This is because every organisation is a union of employers, employees and clients. A conflict-stricken organisation has low productivity rate and sits on tenterhooks. If the accounts department fails to pay electricity bills on time and there is a disconnection of power it will affect every department and eventually disrupt the day’s operations and delivery—every department will bear the brunt. This has the potential of causing conflict among several departments in the organization. Whenever there is a breakdown in communication, there ensue accusations and counter-accusations among the various departments.

Making the Best Out of Business Communication

It’s obvious from the above that communication in an organisation affects not only the external publics but also the internal publics. Business communication takes place throughout every organization, using multiple channels for many kinds of desired outcomes. As noted by Asha Kaul of the Management Development Institute in India, effective business communication comprises a two-way cycle of messaging and feedback designed to achieve a specific response. Successful companies often employ efficient, appropriate, and thoughtful messages. This SMART message ensures healthy internal and external relations of the company. 

Effective business communication should elicit appropriate and desired feedback. Business professionals must understand how to communicate effectively via e-mail, text message and social media. Such new tools allow business professionals to combine personal messages with automated responses, such as vacation auto-responder messages. This helps businesses to deal with colossal amount of information at the same time and with swiftness. A client who receives quicker acknowledgment of transactions feels inclined to repeat business with the organisation.

Messages for both internal and external publics must be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) and take on the attributes of the medium chosen for communication. The targets or audiences of the message and their background should be taken into consideration. For instance, a message meant for audiences who are visually appreciative will not be favourably responded to if it is a dense text message. Likewise, audiences accustomed to high writing skills will not appreciate a visually oriented message.

The Results

Joe Taylor Jr. chronicles the results of effective business communication in the following words:

‘... [It] offers the best opportunity to make an outstanding first impression. Using powerful words, images and messages, business professionals can craft strong internal partnerships while developing the foundation of a solid client base. By building a reputation as an engaged listener, a professional can set up next actions that solidify her commitment to acting on requests or adjusting after responses.’

Thus, effective business communication is the very value and credo that underpin an organisation; paving way for high mutual relationship between an organisation and its publics as well as protecting, maintaining, building and managing the image, identity, and reputation of entrepreneurs and their organisations. High productivity and clients’ loyalty then become the guaranteed results.

The Writer is a Communicator and Researcher

A Graduate Intern at Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry

(inubs3@gmail.com)

Columnist: Isaac Nunoo