Facilitating productivity through reinforced communication and collaboration

Here is an excerpt from our eBook, Creating Performance that Matters in the Workplace, which was released in full at the 2022 Global Peter Drucker Forum.

So much of the second chapter of this eBook, Creating Trust Through Transparency and Inclusion, is focused on creating a more inclusive and transparent work environment that sets clear goals and encourages employee participation. That is because creating a supportive work culture, where everyone on the team feels that their perspective is appreciated, breeds exceptional communication and team collaboration – two foundational pillars of high-performing organizations. 

With adaptability and both team and organizational agility becoming increasingly more important, so too has the ability to communicate and collaborate fluidly. Seamless internal communications and collaboration are essential to ensuring employees are aligned with team and business goals, maintaining accountability, and mitigating errors or miscommunication – all of which facilitate productivity. Still, many businesses seem to talk the talk over walking the walk when it comes to implementing successful communication and collaboration strategies.

New and evolving business models – like remote and hybrid work – have been both a blessing and a curse for business leaders looking to implement strong communication plans. While advanced communication technology has allowed sustained streams of communication among remote employees, distance can create a disconnect between an employee and their company, exacerbate simple misunderstandings, and hinder collaborative efforts. Now, more than ever, an organization must consider what ‘good’ communication looks like, the barriers that hinder effective communication, and how to facilitate collaborative efforts amongst new ways of working.

Let’s take a closer look at the importance of business communications and team collaboration, and how organizations can create successful internal communications plans that generate performance that matters.

The importance of employee happiness

In the middle of the twentieth century, psychologist Abraham Maslow published his now-famous Hierarchy of Needs – a diagram that arranges human requirements from basic to psychological needs and the needs to fuel our sense of fulfillment. Once humans have fulfilled their basic and psychological needs (food, water, warmth, safety, security, etc.), they next desire human connection and a sense of belonging.

Communication and collaboration are the cornerstones of employee connection and the direct path to relationship building and camaraderie. What does this mean? Employees that are unable to communicate openly and form connections with those around them are likely going to be unhappy. And, employee happiness has a direct correlation with performance. Studies show that happy employees are 20% more productive than unhappy employees.

Individuals who can communicate and work with their teammates feel more connected to their company, fulfilled by their work, and happier in their position – all of which lead to increased productivity.

The costs of poor communications

Poor business communication is also costly. New research by Grammarly and The Harris Poll of U.S. business leaders found that poor workplace communication has led to an estimated $1.2 trillion annual loss among U.S. businesses – approximately $12,506 per employee each year.

Communication is the backbone of so many aspects of today’s business operations. Hindered, disjointed, or discouraged communication pipelines can snowball problems and make them worse, while at the same time making solutions harder to find. To survive and thrive in today’s markets, business leaders must empower their employees through strong internal communications plans.

Thinking big (before small) when it comes to communications planning

“Silos” is a trigger word for business leaders – or it should be. Organizations stress the importance of cross-team communication and the consequences of team and departmental silos through internal messaging, town halls, and company-wide meetings. But how much are employers actually doing to deter these silos?

Organizations tend to address communication on a department-by-department or campaign-by-campaign basis. A recent Gallagher survey found that 70% of businesses develop communication plans for specific campaigns or initiatives, but only a third have a documented, long-term internal communications plan.

While smaller, goal-specific team communication plans are essential to effective communications, they should be rooted in larger, standardized organizational communication practices. Extensive, long-term internal communication plans set a precedent for when, how, and with whom leaders should be communicating, as well as how that communication maps to overall business goals. When leaders know precisely who to communicate with and the most effective channels to do so, it saves time, reduces miscommunication, and limits the potential for information to slip through the cracks.

Effective, performance-producing internal communication strategies require employee engagement, effective leadership, and the right technology.

Employee engagement

Eighty-four percent of employees say they don’t get enough information about the business direction and overall goals from leadership. With the rise of remote and hybrid working models, these numbers are unsustainable. Companies must engage employees to limit miscommunication and ensure they understand the purpose of their role and how it aligns with business outcomes.

Effective leadership

Leaders must engage with employees, that’s clear, but that engagement needs to come through effective communication. Often, managers are the mouthpiece of an organization among their teams. It is critical that these leaders can effectively communicate team goals and how they align with overall business goals on a day-to-day basis. And, engaging leaders with great communication skills will also instill these skills in their employees.

Empowering communications through technology

Today’s innovative communication tools have eliminated obstacles to providing employees with a complete overview of operations. By leveraging project management and collaboration tools, employers offer employees a platform to collaborate effortlessly, monitor (and realize) individual and team progress and communicate and share insights across departments. Video conferencing tools also allow employers to hold more face-to-face company-wide meetings that keep employees connected to the business and up-to-date with overall business goals and planning. All of these tools ultimately help build connections.

Through employee engagement and effective leadership, businesses can get the best sense of how individuals and teams communicate and the tools needed to bring together teams, departments, and entire companies. This will enable leaders to implement standardized communication processes to guide departments. With employee engagement, effective leadership and the right tools will streamline team communication and collaboration while generating outcomes faster.

Facilitating team collaboration

Effective internal communications are the cornerstone of team collaboration. Still, employers need to create environments that encourage open thinking and collaboration. While digital collaboration software streamlines communication efforts, it is critical to get employees together in person to collaborate as well. As we discussed earlier, research shows that employees prefer a workplace setting for certain tasks, like collaborating on projects, presenting material or leading meetings, workplace training, and team socialization.

So, as businesses move to hybrid models, there should be a concerted effort to set time aside for in-person meetings, training, and team bonding.

The power of pair working

At Emergn, we advocate for pair working (better known as pair programming in the software world). Why? Well, two heads are better than one! Especially when dealing with complicated or complex problems that require creativity and problem-solving.

The Benefits of pair working:

  • Time saved: Pair working allows instant feedback through collaboration, rather than wasting time going in the wrong direction or waiting for direction.
  • Improved focus: Collaborative efforts like pair working keep teammates accountable and focused on details – producing more clear and concise outcomes.
  • Better quality outcomes: By pairing, you get two perspectives and two minds considering the alignment of the work with business outcomes and customer goals. This makes it more likely that the results are better for the customer and most aligned with the team and overall goals.
  • Enhanced learning: Pair working encourages learning. Where one employee may lack knowledge in a certain area, another may be able to teach—and vice versa. This helps ensure knowledge-sharing among teammates and helps everyone perform at the highest possible level.

Fifty-four percent of employees say that a strong sense of community has kept them at a company longer. And, 99.1% prefer a workplace where people identify with one another and discuss issues truthfully and effectively. Team collaboration, however it is performed, is essential to creating a community, connection, and trust within the workplace – which leads to more open and honest collaborations, enhanced performance, and overall satisfaction.

Organizations that think big about internal communications will provide employees with the mindset, knowledge, leadership, and tools they need to produce better business outcomes. Excellent communication facilitates free, open thinking and collaboration. By prioritizing team collaboration, employers will create connection and trust among employees to meet goals faster, solve problems and optimize performance.

Be sure to check out Chapter One: 5 Ways to Create Performance that Matters of the Emergn eBook or download the full eBook, Creating Performance that Matters in the Workplace, here. Each chapter breaks down each of the five ways to create performance that matters in the workplace in today’s market.