In business, future growth depends on the actions you take now—and so much of your company’s ability to grow depends on productive internal communication. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, poor communication can cost smaller companies up to $420,000 per year; for larger enterprises, the cost can be as high as $62.4 million annually.
The sooner you and your team can improve your business communication skills, the sooner your company will be on the fast track to maximum growth.
Let’s take a look at why effective communication is so crucial for your business, which business communication skills you and your team should prioritize, and finally, how you and your team can start improving them right away.
The power of effective business communication
A company isn’t a machine with parts that automatically fit together and work in harmony. It is a collection of unique individuals working toward the same goals. The key to bringing all of those different personalities together in a productive way is to communicate well.
Here’s how effective business communication supports your goals:
- Streamlines workflows by cutting down on irrelevant memos and confusing or contradictory messages.
- Improves productivity by clarifying roles and responsibilities, as well as minimizing redundancies.
- Fosters a positive company culture in which team members can communicate clearly, openly, and professionally.
- Increases employee satisfaction, which invites higher levels of engagement and brand advocacy.
- Reduces turnover by keeping team members up-to-date on changes to everyday operations and expectations.
- Encourages innovation, as team members become more able and willing to share new ideas and develop creative solutions.
Effective digital communication has become especially critical now that an estimated 5 million employees in the US work mostly from home. But regardless of where you and your team work, communication is vital to productive collaboration.
Critical business communication skills to hone
Regardless of whether you’re telecommunicating or chatting in person, four business communication skills are invaluable:
People often take three sentences to say what they could in one, and many of us have a natural habit of using superfluous filler words and qualifiers. This habit can be difficult to break—especially for employees with years of experience in academic writing, which often requires a certain word-count quota.
Yet conciseness is critical for clear communication. The more direct your messages are, the more you and your team can minimize any misunderstandings.
- To improve the conciseness of your writing, you should scan completed first drafts for words, phrases, or sentences that can be cut without losing the meaning of your message. When in doubt, strike it out. Then, reread your document one final time to ensure it still makes sense. Depending on how large the draft is, this can be a time-consuming process to perform manually. To streamline efforts, use a digital writing assistant like Grammarly Business that’s specifically designed to check content for clarity and conciseness within seconds. It can provide suggestions for improvement in real time, and can even compare your content against a built-in custom style guide that you can create for you and your teams to reference.
In business communication, stylistic consistency can be just as important as informational consistency. Even seemingly small details, like your punctuation style or how you write your numbers, can have a big impact on the efficacy of your communication.
At the company level, consistency builds professional credibility. At the individual level, it shows how much thought and effort is put into work—including messages.
- To ensure consistency in your writing, always refer to your brand style guide before and after drafting, and encourage team members to do the same. If one does not exist, consider creating one—even if just for your own or your team’s use. This ensures that everyone follows the same stylistic rules from one document to the next.
It may seem obvious, but holding your audience’s interest is important. Engaging communication ensures not only that your target audience hears you but also understands you. Most importantly, it can give your messages a greater likelihood of generating the results you’re looking for.
Studies show that higher employee engagement can increase profits by as much as 21%, thanks to a 41% reduction in absenteeism and 59% lower turnover rates.
- To make your writing more engaging, review your documents with an eye for overused words. These may be words that are universally relied upon too much—such as “really” or “very”—or words that you personally tend to favor too often. Refer to a thesaurus to find fresher, more precise alternatives.
Achieving the right tone, especially in remote or written conversations, can be challenging. The tone that you may intend to use is not always the one you naturally convey, as many people do not write the same way they speak.
Yet using the wrong tone in business communications can be distracting, confusing, or even offensive. In most cases, you’ll want to use simple, direct language to achieve a confident tone while also being mindful to include enough empathetic language to avoid sounding unfriendly, transactional, or standoffish.
- To check the tone of a document, try reading it out loud to see what tone you naturally take on as you read, or ask a colleague to read it for you. If you’re still unsure about the tone of a piece, try running it through a program like Grammarly that can automatically analyze it for you.
How to start improving business communication today
In addition to improving the specific communication skills listed above, there are also a few actions you can start taking now to help your team communicate better—regardless of your specific areas for improvement:
- Communicate why you want to see improvement. Get your team on board with your initiative as soon as possible; helping them see this as a learning opportunity will help speed up the process and encourage better results.
- Practice active listening and reading, and encourage team members to do the same. Feeling heard is a great motivator for improving communication skills.
- Create, update, and distribute your brand style guide as needed to unify and clarify communication guidelines and expectations.
- Ask questions and invite your team members to do the same. The more openly employees feel they can communicate, the easier it is to collaborate effectively.
For written communications, consider implementing a business writing tool that makes double-checking work fast and easy. Grammarly Business, for example, is a digital writing assistant that can help your team:
- Improve conciseness by scanning documents and providing alternative recommendations in real time for run-on sentences, filler words, unnecessary qualifiers, and excessive wordiness.
- Improve consistency by checking content for general uniformity, as well as comparing it against a customizable brand style guide.
- Improve engagement by instantly detecting overused words and offering suggestions that add variety to vocabulary and sentence structure.
- Improve tone by using AI-based technology to detect tone and provide feedback on how to more closely align final drafts with preset goals.
You and your team may not become business communication experts overnight, but by taking a few steps today that spark change and growth, you’ll see improvement and positive results that much sooner.
Grammarly can improve your and your team’s written business communication skills by up to 72% in just six months. Contact us to learn more about our cutting-edge digital writing assistant or get Grammarly Business for your team today.