The cost of poor communications

By: Kirk Theriot

In our previous post, we explored how effective, audience-focused communications are critical to driving positive results, meeting strategic goals, and creating a healthy work environment. An essential tool across all businesses, a communications plan is a road map for getting a message across to an audience, pinpointing who you need to get information to as well as when and how you intend to communicate it.

In this post we’ll explore the high cost of miscommunication. Let’s talk.

How many times have you been in an argument or a disagreement with someone over what you thought they said, only to later find that the person meant something completely different from what you thought they meant? Have you set off workplace warfare by sending or receiving an email that sounded rude or insulting?

The cost of poor communications is felt equally by large and small businesses. A survey of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each cited an average loss per company of $62.4 million per year, reported David Grossman in his book, The Cost of Poor Communications. In the article, “Top Ten Email Blunders that Cost Companies Money,” Debra Hamilton stated that even smaller companies of 100 employees or less are impacted on average of $420,000 per year.

Poor communications in the workplace lead to an impressive list of issues and inefficiencies. These top our list:

Failed project delivery. The true cost of failed or poorly-executed projects is immeasurable. Missed due dates, cost blowouts, budget overruns, and project cancellation costs are massive.

Increased employee absenteeism and turnover. Inadequate, inefficient, and inconsistent communications severely impacts employee motivation and workplace morale. People who voluntarily leave to find other employment is a significant cost to any employer.

Greater incidences of injuries. Occupational health and safety accidents and stress-related illnesses cost organizations billions of dollars each year. Inadequate communication and lack of quality and consistent training is a major factor in many of these incidents.

Retailers are negatively affected by misguided or confusing consumer communications as well as poor internal communications with personnel.

Poor customer service. Poor communications with employees lead to frustrating communications with customers. Employees who lack guidance from management and are locked out of genuine dialogue about their job struggle to know how to satisfy customers and lose the commitment to do so.

Increased employee absenteeism and turnover. Employee turnover is staggering in retail. Lack of communications and poor communications contribute to uninformed, unappreciated, and unfulfilled workers.

Loss of sales. Ineffective communication and marketing efforts are the death of many retail and service-based companies. Inadequately-produced materials fail to get noticed and poor communications turn potential customers away.

Consider these factors for better communications.

1. Be audience-focused. Targeted message resonate with intended audience.

2. Be persistent in your communications. Good communication is a skill, and like any skill, it takes practice and feedback to get better.

3. Be aware of nonverbal communication. Concentrate on tone of voice, eye contact, and your body language. An individual’s facial expression and body language can be a powerful message that is delivered involuntarily. Recognize that your message may be perceived different than originally intended.

4. Create mission-driven messages. Employees become more efficient and feel more valued when they can visually see their role in the puzzle of the company.

5. Create a dialogue. Employees often make assumptions because they don’t feel comfortable speaking up, and we know what happens when people act off of assumptions alone.

6. Create ownership. Employees must recognize that their role is not only important, but it is critical to the overall success of the organization.

7. Stop making excuses. Commit to getting better. Allocate the necessary time, energy, and resources to deliver quality-minded, highly-strategic messages.

Ensuring consistent and strategic communications will enable you to connect the dots for employees between their roles, increase customer retention, and increase donor resources and donations. Money talks!

In our final post on effective, audience-focused communications, we’ll draft a road map for a productive communications plan.