Over the past year or so I’ve needed the services of some white collar professionals.

Last month one sent me a regular invoice, for which the amount was higher than I expected. I griped about it to myself (but not the provider) and, while I would have paid the invoice, the relationship would have been dented, and quite likely shortened.

Two to three days later I had an email and phone exchange with the provider in question where we discussed the work that had been invoiced. In a matter of minutes I’d got comfort that the work had been done with good reason and best endeavours: its rationale and value was plain to me. The relationship was repaired, and I was happy to pay the bill. I was surprised how quickly the value of the work which had been invoiced was made apparent. All was well.

Around the same time another of my providers in a related field had still not formally responded to some important correspondence I had sent six weeks earlier. I caught wind of the fact that the response to my correspondence had been discussed with an unrelated party and then, in classic Chinese Whispers fashion, found its way back to me, indirectly, and only after repeated chasing-up.

Three days later (two of which were a weekend where I was out of town) I issued an instruction to terminate contact with that provider, effective immediately. Having hung on and made excuses to myself for that person for six weeks (“It is the Christmas New Year break after all; perhaps they’ve gone away? A lot of people in that profession do close up shop for the whole of January…”) the decision to terminate contact with that provider came swiftly and easily. No remorse or sentimentality. No relic of a relationship.

Communication Impacts
Those two experiences crystallised for me the bottom-line impact of clear communication. From the providers’ perspective…

… in the first case a relationship was maintained and revenue generated

… in the second, the relationship died and revenue shifted elsewhere.

The ease, flow and completeness of communication has tangible effects in terms of generating:

  • revenue
  • reliability
  • credibility
  • customer satisfaction, and
  • stakeholder support.

In other words, clear-flowing communication enhances performance.

Five Payoffs from Enhanced Communication: Increased Revenue; Savings in Time and Cost … and a Higher Purpose
It strikes me that little has been written about the concrete, performance-related benefits of enhanced communication. I’m not talking about the usual fluffy rationales such as getting along better with your co-workers; rather, the real impacts that go to the heart of a business’s bottom line or a Government or not-for-profit service’s impact on clients and stakeholders.

Last December I developed and delivered training in communications to a commercially-exposed Government agency, so I had cause to think through the ways in which clear and assertive communications in an organisation translates to the bottom-line.

Aside from the obvious (revenue generated from an externally focused marketing campaign) consider the following five scenarios in which enhanced communication yields concrete payoffs:

  1. An employee who is able to clearly communicate a boundary and push-back against a ‘scope creep’ demand from a client saves the time of the employee and can result in the generation of new revenue if the demand can be funnelled into a new, formal work order. (Benefit of communications: saving in employee time and cost, increased revenue)

  2. Enhanced communications can mean a manager has a fuller picture of her work portfolio (where work previously was being carried out without visibility to that manager). The division’s resources and employee time can then be allocated to their ‘highest and best use’ ie. higher financial or other return (Benefit of communications: optimised allocation of staff to projects leading in turn to higher revenues and/or greater stakeholder support)

  3. Sometimes clients and customers have a less-than-complete idea of what they want. Or they may think they know what they want, but in reality, need something completely different. Communication can allow real, underlying client issues to be identified earlier. To use an example from the senior manager who commissioned my training: a client once asserted that they wanted a blue and orange cover for a report, which ended up looking terrible. What the client was actually after was a contemporary design. (Benefit of communications: reduction in turnaround time to client; saving in staff time and costs)

  4. Having identified a client’s true need (see point three above) the advanced communication skill of rapidly crystallising the benefit of your offering in meeting that need is a powerful pathway to higher revenues, and a key means of acquiring larger ‘lumps’ of business. (Benefit of communications: quantum leap in revenue)

  5. The ultimate in communication is to impart a shared vision or higher-order purpose which is an outgrowth of staff or client work and goes beyond narrow self-interest. Without an underpinning in real work and operations this is empty rhetoric; but when there is a foundation of substance, this communication galvanises people’s efforts in an intrinsic way. In the wider social sphere, this is the province of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. (Benefit of communications: breakthrough in social understanding, cohesion and motivation).

These are tangible, heavy-hitting benefits. While we all intuitively understand how effective communication is linked to sales and marketing (identifying customer or stakeholder need; crystallising value) note how it is also linked with strategy (vision) and motivation.

What’s the state of communication in your workplace? Sub-par time usage, inefficient allocation of staff to tasks, and poor revenue performance can each signify a need for enhanced communication.

With such concrete payoffs, isn’t it worth ensuring there is a clear flow of communication in your organisation?

With best regards,
Michael Carman
Director I Michael Carman Consulting
PO Box 686, Petersham NSW 2049 I M: 0414 383 374

© Michael Carman 2014