By Pearson Mbendera

I am the silent type. I don’t try to be, that’s just who I am. It comes out naturally. Even though sometimes I do talk a lot and loudly, I would prefer to just be alone, plug some earphones in my ears, listening to my music-no talking. To me silence is never awkward. Silence is actually golden. But in business that’s a different story.

While studies have shown that verbal communication accounts for less than 20% of human interaction in face-to-face situations, actually opening your mouth and saying something is key to get your message across in a non-ambiguous, clear way.

In the current economic condition of Zimbabwe, where business is low, employee morale low and cash is always pulling a disappearing act. It is paramount that communication be high. When you cannot pay your creditors in time, talk to them about it, when you cannot meet the pay date, involve employees before they sit down on their tools, halting production waiting for money that won’t be coming anyway.

Communication enhances productivity. Numerous studies among various business components have found out that lack of communication acts as an obstacle to productivity and overall business performance. Effective communication eliminates the questions and confusion that may cause projects to delay or assignments to be put off due to the need for further clarification. When people communicate effectively in the office, employees can be more productive because they’ll know what is expected of them the first time around.

Effective communication enables managers to give understandable instructions to their teams, which decreases the chance of there being mistakes made due to miscommunication or misinterpretation. Being an effective leader means knowing how to communicate with your team in a way that is clear and comprehensible, for the betterment of the organization as a whole. Everything a manager does have something to do with communication. Be it delegating, passing instructions down, getting feedback or simply complimenting staff for a job well done. Managers use communication to motivate their teams, create company policies and give presentations in meetings.

Ineffective communication can be costly to the organization in both financial and non-financial ways. It may result in mistakes being made, increasing the expenses of the company, some business may be lost due to ineffective communication with clients or any other external stakeholders. While organizations differ from one to the other, the best organizations that promote effective communication may need to train employees who struggle with communication or ultimately let go of those who do not exhibit effective communication skills. Either way, training employees or terminating them will result in the organization losing money through paying for communication training classes or the costs incurred while hiring of new employees.

For those with an advanced knowledge of Public Relations and Marketing understand that effective communication is the cornerstone to satisfied customers. Effective communication is used to improve conversations with customers and make customers feel like they are being heard and valued by employees. In turn, this can help employees and companies build strong customer relations. It embodies the, “Customer is the King” philosophy of Paul Samuelson. There is no way you can effectively save the King to his satisfaction without knowing his preferences, grievances and any other concerns which can only be brought about through communication.

People say that talk is cheap but clearly they are wrong. Truth and timely communication is no cheap talk. I heard someone say they were uneconomic with the truth, only later did I realize that telling the truth is the most expensive gift you can give. Reality is, truth telling, actual talking, contrary to popular belief isn’t cheap.

Most managers prefer to shut their office doors, minding their business alone. Communication with their team is the key to getting the company going.

While studying Finance at NUST, I always shunned management, marketing and communication courses because I considered them less important and rather irrelevant to my financial career. For that reason I never gave them my full attention. It was only when I went for industrial attachment that I realized the importance of them after I realized a serious deficiency of them at the organization I was working at. Any manager can be good in his/her area of expertise, be it finance, operations or human resources, but without communication, their work will tumble down. The larger part of management lies in the effectiveness of the communication networks employed by the manager.

Delegation requires communication; setting of goals with your team requires communication. It is in the effective and efficient execution of these tasks that good managers are separated from bad managers. Silent types of managers are usually feared while those who are more communicating are more respected. I would rather be a respected manager than a feared one.
Communication takes many forms, all in the name of exchanging meaning. Whether it is face-to-face, via email, by telephone or any other means using the various modems available, communication is important and should not be overlooked.

So the next time you think of shutting your office door and go on about your business, think again, go to your employees, get to know what they want from you. Tell them what you expect of them, and together you can figure out the best way to accomplish your organizational goals. Bottom-line is, communication is your actual business, and not doing so will be rendered as you not carrying out your duties to the fullest.

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