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Communication Skills at the Workplace

Research has established that the human beings’ ability to create and sustain their social world depends largely on how well they communicate. An individual’s social skills play a crucial role in his or her well-being and that of other people. There is a close relationship between effective communication and benefits such as happiness, resilience to stress, and psychological problems, and enhanced academic and professional achievements (Hargie, 2006). Coupling of communication skills with motivation, coaching, and goal setting in a comprehensive training program results in a solid base of knowledge and improved performance.

Communication constitutes a significant part of our daily routines whether we are in school, at home, or in our places of work. Human beings spend most of their time engaging in some form of communication. This may include talking and listening to others, reading books and magazines, and watching television. A survey established that 70 to 80 percent of our working time is spent in some kind of communication (Worth, 2004). We may be reading and writing memos, listening to our co-workers, or having a conversation with our supervisors. Any complete communication process involves at least two parties. One is the sender and the other is the receiver. All the four forms of communication – that is, writing, speaking, listening, and conducting meetings – are very significant for the effective execution of duties at the workplace. Surveys of employees consistently show that communication skills are significant in effective job placement, performance, career advancement, and organizational success (Guffey, 2009). For example, during the hiring process, employers place a great value on both oral and written communication skills of the applicants, among other qualifications. Moreover, in a poll where executives were asked what they looked for in a job candidate, effective communication skills constituted the top choices, which included teamwork, critical thinking and analytic reasoning skills. An organization in which people communicate effectively exhibits better mutual understanding, and thus reduced time wastage and blunders in the organization’s operations. Effective communication ensures clarity and that each person understands his or her role in realizing the organization’s goals. For example, employees will listen to customers and, in turn, because of the rapport initiated, they will market the company’s products and services better. Excellent communication skills are important to an individual as they enhance personal career growth and increase the chances of promotion to better-paid positions. This is because the modern office work involves solitary, repetitive tasks and a lot of collaboration between coworkers and team members (McIntosh, 2008).

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Good communication skills in an organization

Communication is considered effective if both the sender and the receiver agree on the meaning of the information transmitted. Effective communication with co-workers, supervisors and subordinates is crucial to individuals’ performance in their designated tasks (Stojkovic, 2007). Supervisors should be able to communicate clearly with their subordinates regarding work assignments and other issues that might arise, such as customer information and project details. In addition, they should encourage democracy and collaboration by involving the subordinates in the decision-making process, as this promotes communicability in the organization (Barret et al., 2006). Employees should be able to readily access the supervisor and this should be permitted on a non-appointment basis. On the other hand, as a matter of maintaining continuous availability, supervisors should make it a habit to engage employees in individual conversations when the opportunities present themselves (McConnell, 1993)

Communication, whether verbal or nonverbal, has a significant influence on our relationship with other individuals. What we say and how we say it has an impact on how other people feel about us, and on our capacity to build an effective team. Paying attention to communication, especially face-to-face, can help us discover several issues regarding the reception of the information we are conveying. Focused, thoughtful, and open-minded listening helps in reducing misunderstandings. A good communicator should listen for the main points and take notes if necessary in order to remember important details. The most important part of listening is judging ideas, and not appearance or accent. We can ascertain how communication is being received by watching the body language and facial expressions of the other person and pick clues as to whether that person is interested or understanding.

Feedback is a critical element of any communication and should be encouraged during communication. The feedback mechanism of communication increases respect and rapport. Adoption of this mechanism in an organization facilitates timely response and direction regarding the staff issues and therefore keeps employees motivated. Employees develop confidence in the organization’s management and have no reason to doubt that any emerging issues will be addressed in time. Etiquette and courtesy are very important if diverse employees are to work cooperatively and maximize workflow. Many organizations recognize that good manners translate into good business (Guffey, 2009), as they convey a positive image of an organization. In addition, customers like to do business with individuals who treat them with respect. Appropriate communication in an organization promotes teamwork and the overall performance.

Causes of poor communication skills

Poor communication in an organization exists on four main levels. This may be among team members, between the project leader and the team members, between the project team and the top management, and between the project leaders and the clients (Roberts, 1984). The flow of information in an organization can be interrupted by several obstacles, such as distrust between the employees and the employer, which interferes with the upward and downward flow of information in the organization, and therefore hinders effective communication. Employees may cease to trust managers if they feel certain pressures arising from excessive criticism or manipulation (Guaffey, 2009). Several factors have eroded the feelings of trust and pride that the employees once felt towards their employers. These include downsizing, the influx of temporary workers, increased discrimination and harassment suits, and the outrageous compensation packages for chief executives.

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In addition, the horizontal flow of information in an organization may be hindered by the employees’ ego, prejudice, and not wanting to share information with their colleagues in fear of endangering their status or chances of promotion. Moreover, competition within units and uneven reward system may prevent workers from sharing information. Furthermore, the fear of rebuke for freethinking, lacking communication skills, and different points of reference, contribute to ineffective communication (Guffey, 2009).

To improve the flow of information, organizations can adopt strategies such as bringing communication coaches on the board to organized training for employees, encouraging regular meetings with the staff members, and creating a nonthreatening environment in which employees can comfortably share their ideas and observations with the management. In addition, organizations can offer incentive programs encouraging employees to collect and share feedback regarding various issues, and train employees in teamwork and communication techniques.

Effects of poor communication skills in an organization

Communication skills in an organization affect the employees in several ways. A highly communicative and collaborative working environment enhances employees’ productivity, creativity, and inspiration (Muema, 2012). Poor communication skills result in the lack of employees’ enthusiasm in undertaking their duties, and therefore their output becomes significantly lower. In addition, poor communication skills by the manager at the work place will result in employees’ demoralization, as they are forced to sit through the dull and boring presentations without clear instructions on projects. The result is confusion and monotony at the work place (Muema, 2012). Because of ineffective communication, important projects in an organization are handled inadequately, and this may cripple the organization’s innovation and capacity to contribute positively to its customers and the society.

Employee innovation is closely related to the effective communication of new and exciting ideas that, when executed, bring about improvements. Poor communication and thus misunderstandings result in hostility and accusations among the employees, making the working environment unpleasant. Adoption of relevant communication techniques by an organization will help employees solve problems without resorting to blame games, and therefore enhance teamwork and performance. For example, when the members of the executive staff of a large federal agency were interviewed, it was established that poor communication had resulted in widespread distrust of the management, high rates of absenteeism, stress-related workers’ claims, and an increase in interpersonal conflicts (Cloke et al., 2011). However, after a two-day retreat to engage in open and honest communication between the management and staff members and the adoption of the well-discussed communication techniques, staff morale and productivity at the agency increased significantly. In a client satisfaction survey conducted eight months later, the agency received high ratings in client appreciation and quality of client services (Cloke et al., 2011). In another example, a study established that companies with highly effective internal communication, posted shareholder returns, over a five-year period, that were 57 percent higher compared to the companies that communicated ineffectively with their employees (Tourish, 2004). Moreover, the volume of sales for a company is likely to go higher when the sales staffs have skills to develop rapport with customers by listening to, informing, and helping them in problem solving. 


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Managers in organizations should adopt communication techniques that deliver specific messages to employees. They should design effective modes of communication to report to the employees the changes in structure and design in the organization (Schuttler et al., 2009). Leaders must know what communication method satisfies the needs of their unique workforce. For communication to be effective and reach its intended audience, it must be learned, practiced, and exercised. Organizations can better their performance by seeking outside help from another more functional area of the organization with a proven record of effective communication with the employees, customers, clients, and stakeholders. Supervisors should communicate changes in the initiatives to the workforce openly and consistently. This approach alleviates uncertainty and maintains normalcy among the employees. Supervisors who communicate less often with their employees do not create a high-performance environment (Schuttler et al., 2009). On the other hand, continuous communication between supervisors and employees provides the opportunity for learning about each other, the strategy of the organization, and how individual strategies and goals correlate with those of the organization. Effective communication between supervisors and employees creates an open atmosphere for growth and development. Improved employee performance will not only enhance the financial growth of the organization, it will also provide the employees with a sense that they are adding value to the organization and not merely collecting paychecks (Roberts, 1984).

Through the open and continuous communication, supervisors can look to the workforce to identify knowledgeable employees who need to be retained because they are critical to the maintenance of productivity levels through a change of initiative. Ineffective communication cause employees to become distracted and lose focus and this puts the organization at risk. Therefore, effective communication and open dialogue between the management and workers should be a shared interest if the organizational and individual goals are to be met. To gain support from employees and create an organization of performance excellence, supervisors must spent time communicating the nature of strategic, technological, structural, and human resource changes to the subordinates.

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