Everything you need to know about effective business communication (tips and tools)

by Adelina Tuca
Effective Business Communication

Communication is not easy. Especially at a professional level, poor communication can ruin relationships and, eventually, entire businesses. 

It’s hard to communicate effectively even in a small business with a few employees, let alone in an organization of hundreds or thousands. Then how do you succeed at it? Is there any secret?

First, you need to learn the real importance of effective business communication. Then, put your best efforts into constantly improving this aspect within your team. But that involves research and resilience.

In this post, we will share with you insights on why communicating effectively at work is crucial to your progress. We will also explain what you can do to be a better communicator and some tools to streamline the communication.

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Let’s dive in! 

Why is effective business communication important?

What is the role of business communication? Why is it important to communicate effectively with your team and customers? 

Proper communication has a huge impact on how a company thrives. Without it, you will have to face many unpleasant situations, such as losing money, your employees’ interest, important contracts with partners, and your customers.

According to IBM, 72% of employees do not entirely understand the strategy of their company. 63% wish they heard more updates from the leadership team.

Also, 86% of employees cite ineffective communication as the main reason for failures at work. 

But you can change that in your own company because effective business communication has many benefits: 

1. Streamlines employee’s work

With effective internal communication, you make sure that people work on the right projects and not waste time on unneeded tasks. They learn to prioritize what is valuable to a company. Additionally, it feeds the feeling of being useful while working on something meaningful. This increases motivation and gives purpose to everyone’s work.

Also, the customers will have a more streamlined conversation with you, one that’s focused on the solution, not the problem. With great communication, the processes in a company simplify, and so does the employer-employee-customer relationship.

2. Keeps employees and customers engaged

Open communication makes the participants feel like they’re part of a whole. You can encourage people to the discussion. It makes them feel welcomed knowing that their opinions have an impact on a company’s decisions. When you have a clear purpose and values, you are more productive and willing to contribute. You matter.

Helping and creating a connection with the customer brings the same benefits to the latter. When your customers hear your honest side of the story or take on a matter, they will be keener to engage in a conversation instead of shedding their anger on you. 

3. Ensures transparency 

This applies to a company, a partnership between two companies, or the customers. When you are kept up to date with the latest changes and the upcoming plans of your employer or partner, you know what your next actions and goals will be. 

Making everything transparent through effective business communication, you avoid confusion, conflicts, complaints among teams, and the feeling of being left out that many employees or customers may have in relation to you.

When you are not transparent about what is happening inside a company, people lose their motivation and their job satisfaction decreases. When you make all the decisions open and public, your employees will trust you more and contribute to the cause.  

4. Creates a friendly environment

When you have a multicultural environment at work, a lack of effective business communication can set people apart. In a company where employees and customers are encouraged to share their issues, mistakes, ideas, and opinions, the interaction between people happens naturally and they start to feel comfortable with each other. 

When there is comfort within a group of people, they will speak out more. It, in turn, will facilitate finding solutions to problems instead of internalizing them. 

5. Facilitates communication between departments

Sometimes, you barely get to know your colleagues from other departments. Lack of communication turns this gap into a more serious problem when these separate departments don’t share the news with the other teams. 

Being effective at making everything public and accessible to all the teams will save you precious time, stress, anger, and money because each team member will know where to get the information from and where to share their own. 

A process, together with a clear structure and schedule between departments will make things easier when more people from different teams have to collaborate on the same project or stay up to date with what’s been happening in the company lately.

7 strategies for effective business communication

So communication is indeed playing an essential role in keeping your business together. But where do you start putting it into practice? What can you change in your current approach that will help everyone be more productive and engaged at work?

Here are a few tips you can begin with:

1. Be direct, concise, and offer context

One of the most common problems when it comes to communication is when someone gives you only a slice of information, leaving context and other good-to-know points out of sight. It forces you to ask questions, assume your own version of the situation, and do a back-and-forth with lots of follow-ups until you complete the puzzle. 

This kind of thing can take days or even weeks until you finally put the pieces together before getting to actually work on the task.

When you write a message or share news with someone live, note down all the aspects that the receiver must know that could influence the outcome of the given request.

Make the shortest summary that can contain all the important things your receiver needs to know and nothing more, so they can take action directly based on the facts.

Keep an open mind to suggestions, ideas, and opinions coming from the receiver. Maybe they can improve and streamline your proposed schema through alternative solutions. 

2. Be solution-oriented and avoid complaining 

An average person complains around 30 times a day. It’s part of our nature, but complaining steals time from us and the person we’re speaking to. During this time, we could think about finding solutions.

So, whenever you’re contacting a colleague or a customer, instead of only stating what doesn’t work, you can take some time and think about what you can do on your end to improve the situation.

Get directly to the point and offer your perspective of how a thing can be solved instead of waiting for others to come up with an answer. 

On the other hand, if you really can’t come up with a solution because it’s outside your area of expertise, you don’t have to send one just for the sake of saying something. Do not make promises that you can’t keep and try to be realistic.  

3. Ask questions when you have doubts

Another simple strategy of effective business communication is to ask questions when you are not sure of something. Many people think that doing this will spam or disturb their colleagues, which can be valid if you ask a question every 30 minutes. 

When you take over a project, take a few hours to read the specifications, break it down into smaller tasks, and write down what you can’t do or what’s missing for it to be successfully completed. 

Make a list of all questions you have and send it to the person that can clarify things for you. That person can decide what channel they prefer for a conversation and will get back to you when they have the answers ready. 

Do not hesitate to ask questions when your work progress relies on that, but make sure to do it in an organized and structured way.

What is very important to mention here is, do not ask obvious questions that you can find yourself on Google in a few clicks. Everybody has a project to work on, so leaving what they were doing to offer you the evident answer is totally unproductive and quite the opposite of what we call effective business communication. 

Avoid involving other colleagues in situations that you can easily solve by yourself with little effort and in less time. 

4. Give honest feedback

Another important aspect of a company is feedback. Honest feedback works wonders on people because they can learn things that they didn’t know about themselves. Take time to give feedback to your team, whether they ask for it or not.

Officevibe’s study says that 35% of employees rarely get feedback from their manager, having to wait more than three months to hear it. 

Whenever you feel that someone did a great job, say it. Same when they didn’t perform as you expected them to; give them suggestions on how they can improve. 

No matter if the feedback is positive or negative, be respectful when you’re sharing it and willing to help the other person improve their performance. 

Constantly sharing feedback builds a stronger and better team, and also motivates people to do their job better and take more action.

5. Don’t expect things to solve instantly

When you send an email to a co-worker or ask a question, do not expect them to respond the next minute. They are probably engaged with their own projects and tasks, which they won’t interrupt to solve your problem. 

Effective business communication is about patience. As long as nothing is urgent, do not expect your questions to be answered immediately. Quality work and feedback entail time. 

6. Limit private conversations

When there’s a project where more than two people are involved, all discussions should usually be public. Sometimes, people move the conversation to a private chat room because they find it irrelevant to the others in the group or they are ashamed to ask questions in public. 

This approach is not effective because the private conversation might conclude with some takeaways the other people don’t have access to, which again will be daunting to the entire teamwork. It leads to confusion and more time wasted than would normally be.

If you have a small business, it might not be complicated to keep everyone posted and the news might be traveling faster among peers, but in corporations, one little detail that you forgot to communicate might start a chain reaction of unproductivity, disappointment, and frustration. 

That’s why everything that can influence other people’s decisions and actions should be discussed publicly. This way you will avoid “But I didn’t know about this rule”, “When was this decision made?” or similar reactions that can turn into useless and pointless work. 

It’s important to listen to everyone’s take on a certain topic, so keeping the conversation public will make things easier and everybody can freely contribute to the final form of the project, see the updates, and find answers. 

7. Write an employee handbook

A handbook for your company – where you write about all the processes that take place in your team, how they’re happening, and why – will save you a lot of time when you hire new employees. It will also be the go-to place for the employees who want to find information about the company. 

In the handbook, you can write about all the internal procedures – from human resources insights to how each department works, the company’s values, benefits, annual activities with the team, onboardings, and all sorts of initiatives that the company supports.

5 kinds of tools for effective business communication

Last but not least, we will show you a few tools that your company can try to pave its way towards effective business communication. 

We separated the tools into a few categories because they serve slightly different purposes:

1. Project management tools

These types of tools are good at keeping together the nitty-gritty of a project in development. You can use them to structure each project’s stages the way that makes the most sense to you and your employees. 

For instance, you can break tasks down into Ideas, In progress, Solved, Issues, Q&A, etc. Each member of the project has access to the dashboard and can easily communicate with their teammates on very specific matters. 

Trello, Asana, Monday.com, and Basecamp are tools that will help you keep track of everything that’s going on during the development of a project and also keep everything transparent for everyone. These are the aim-and-hit kind of tools because they can contain every detail related to a project and the people in charge of it. 

2. Customer support / help desk tools

If you work with customers, you must ensure that your team applies the same internal principles to external cases as well. You want your customers to be satisfied after interacting with you, so they keep using your products and services.

Zendesk, Freshdesk, HelpScout, and Zoho Desk are some of the best tools that bring together in one dashboard all the live chat messages, tickets, requests, emails, and social media feedback that your customers are sending to you when they need help with an issue. The tools allow you to reply, implement custom workflows, and see statistics about customer satisfaction. 

3. Instant messaging / communication tools

There are also chat tools for businesses for when quick message exchanges between teammates are needed.

Slack and Skype are at the top of the market when it comes to messaging tools. They are useful for various matters that are too quick or short to be sent in an email or in a separate thread via a project management tool.

They are also great for when two or more employees need to be engaged in a live conversation about a task that needs on-time assistance. 

Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet are perfect for live video meetings with your team or with the entire company, to keep in touch about everyone’s life and work progress.

4. Human resources tools

Human resources tools should be a part of your company’s effective business communication because you need to keep track of all the current and future employees/contributors in one place. 

They are tools made for the administrative side of things, where everyone can see their teammates’ job title, department, home address, phone number, time off, birthday, direct managers, etc. 

Gusto, Workday, Namely, Freshteam, and BambooHR are the tools that you can try for this purpose. 

5. Miscellaneous tools

Next, you’ll see a cocktail of tools that belong to different categories. We just selected the best names for each one.

1. Time Doctor for productivity

To increase your and your employees’ productivity and awareness of where time goes, Time Doctor is the right tool. Time Doctor gives you a better understanding of how the teams spend their time when at work. Knowing the numbers, you can adjust the workflow and help your team to be more productive. 

2. LastPass for password protection

With LastPass, you can keep all the company’s accounts in one secure place that all team members can access. It avoids redundant, repetitive, and annoying questions to the wrong persons asking for a password.

3. Google workspace (formally G Suite)

Google Workspace is the all-in-one solution for businesses. It includes email, online calendars, chat, video conferencing apps, private cloud spaces for shared files, online documents that can be easily shared with colleagues, and a lot more useful communication tools for companies. 

4. Loom for asynchronous video communication

Loom is an app that lets you record video messages where you can share your screen with the audience and use your webcam. It’s a quicker way to send updates to your team if your message is long and requires too much writing.

Wrapping up

There’s no such thing as successful business without effective communication. It’s not easy to create a homogeneous strategy of communication among peers but it will stick with you in the long run if you work on it every day. 

Use the insights we shared with you from our own professional experience and take advantage of the numerous tools that you have on your side today to improve the communication efforts in your team. 

Also, we want to hear your take on effective business communication. What techniques are you using in your company? Which ones proved to be the most efficient for you?

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