Fuel to the Fire

buy-in cost of leadership employee engagement employee experience leadership culture leadership development poor communications profit profitability profitability killers return on investment why is communication important in leadership workplace communication Mar 28, 2023
poor communications

It seems that the cost of poor communication is impacting enough organizations that it’s become quite a hot topic… I found a separate article on Inc.com called Costs of Poor Communication Reach $37 Billion. Avoid Disconnects By Implementing These Two Things at referenced the same study I shared before citing the average loss of $62.4 million per year to the 400 companies for 100k employees, but the Inc article shared one more piece from the study that I hadn’t seen before. That same study showed that “companies with leaders who possess effective communication skills produced a 47 percent higher return to shareholders over a five-year period.” 

It’s one thing to see stats pointing to how much profitability is being killed by issues like this but seeing how organizations that do these things well are capturing that lost profit can give even those of us who have struggled the most a glimmer of hope! While I’ve seen how much of a role communication plays in every working environment I’ve been a part of, I’ve also seen how many other things are impacted by communication; for good and for bad! And it certainly doesn’t only apply to the business world…

Since late 2019, I’ve written a monthly column for a local newspaper around the topic of effective communication. The biggest difference between that column and the majority of our work though has been its focus on how communication builds (or tears down) personal relationships just as much as it does business relationships - and the profitability businesses need to remain sustainable. Regardless of where we’re doing the communicating, the relationships involved become stronger or weaker based on the energy we invest. And for good or for bad, that communication serves as fuel for quite a few other fires!

The goal I’ve had for that newspaper column has been to provide a resource for the folks who read it that helps them enjoy better relationships with their friends and family members; the people they interact with most frequently. That said, the same tools I share in the column apply at least as much in the business world because the relationships we build with the teams we lead have direct ties to the ever-important profitability we’ve been looking at here!

When we’ve built strong relationships with our teams, and we communicate with them clearly on a consistent basis, we become likely candidates for experiencing the magic of employee engagement and buy-in. When I cover these topics in a group setting, I use an analogy of a row boat and explain that the actively engaged employees are the ones who have their oars in the water and are rowing just as hard as they can to help the boat reach its destination. Unfortunately, the highest I’ve ever seen any employee engagement study show for these actively engaged folks has been just over 30%. 

Quite frankly, I don’t believe active employee engagement needs to top out there and we’ll work through the specifics of how we can each address it in our teams soon as we address that profitability killer in more detail. For now though, I’ll challenge you to consider whether you’ve ever been completely bought into an idea or as actively engaged as you were capable of when the person leading the team had not invested the energy to communicate effectively with you. (Hint: I know the answer…)

Poor communication can add quite a bit of fuel to the fire that’s burning up our employee engagement and buy-in, but it also creates confusion and that confusion kills quite a bit of profit too so we’ll look at that next…