Why Effective Communication is Key to Business Success

Why Effective Communication is Key to Business Success

Insights from Top New Zealand Organisations


We often hear that a fantastic product or service is the key to success. It’s a common belief that if you create something exceptional, customers will naturally flock to you, and your business will thrive. While having a top-notch product or service is certainly important, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. The reality is that the most successful organisations are those that prioritise effective communication.

Think about it – even the best product can falter if your team can’t collaborate effectively or if your clients feel misunderstood.

Take Fonterra, for example. Fonterra is renowned not just for its high-quality dairy products, but also for its strong emphasis on open communication. They have a culture where employees are encouraged to share ideas and feedback openly. Fonterra’s internal communication platforms and regular meetings foster a sense of transparency and inclusivity, leading to a more engaged and innovative workforce.

Another great example is Xero. They invest heavily in communication training for their employees. Xero uses various communication tools to ensure seamless collaboration across teams and departments. They also conduct regular training sessions to help their employees develop strong interpersonal communication skills, which not only improves internal collaboration but also enhances client relationships.

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare is another standout. They place a strong emphasis on company culture and communication. They offer extensive training programs for their employees, focusing on both customer service and internal communication. Their unique approach includes ensuring that every employee, regardless of their role, understands the importance of clear and empathetic communication with clients and colleagues.

And then there’s Air New Zealand. They have built a reputation for exceptional customer service, which stems from their strong internal communication culture. Air New Zealand invests in training programs that emphasise teamwork and effective communication. Their open-door policy encourages employees to share ideas and concerns, creating a collaborative and supportive work environment.

One of the keys to effective communication is learning how to adapt to others’ communication needs and preferences.

Every person has a unique way of processing and sharing information – some may prefer direct and concise messages, while others might appreciate more detailed explanations. Recognising these differences and adjusting your approach accordingly can make your interactions more effective and meaningful. This starts with developing self-awareness. When you understand your own communication style, you can better recognise and adapt to the styles of others. This adaptability is crucial for building effective and successful relationships, both within your team and with your clients. It’s about being mindful of how others prefer to receive information and making the effort to meet them where they are.

Developing self-awareness is the first step. Start by reflecting on your communication habits and preferences. Are you someone who likes to get straight to the point, or do you prefer to provide background and context? Do you find it easier to communicate in writing or verbally? Understanding your own style helps you become more conscious of how you interact with others and allows you to identify areas where you might need to adapt.

Listening is another crucial aspect of effective communication. Often, we focus so much on what we want to say that we forget to truly listen to others. Active listening involves paying full attention to the speaker, observing their body language, and responding thoughtfully. This not only shows respect but also ensures that you understand their perspective fully before responding. In the Peace Under Pressure program, we emphasise the importance of listening without interrupting and asking clarifying questions to ensure comprehension.

Empathy plays a significant role in communication. By putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, you can better understand their feelings and perspectives. This understanding fosters a more compassionate and effective dialogue. Empathy involves acknowledging the emotions of others and responding in a way that shows you care. For instance, if a team member is frustrated, instead of dismissing their feelings, acknowledge their frustration and work together to find a solution.

Clarity and conciseness are also vital. Being clear and concise helps prevent misunderstandings and ensures that your message is easily understood. This doesn’t mean oversimplifying your message but rather focusing on the key points and avoiding unnecessary jargon or details. In our training sessions, we practice techniques for organising thoughts and presenting them in a straightforward manner.

Feedback is a powerful tool for improving communication. Constructive feedback helps individuals understand how their communication affects others and provides opportunities for growth. In a supportive environment, feedback can be given and received positively. It’s important to be specific, focus on behaviors rather than personal attributes, and offer suggestions for improvement. In the Peace Under Pressure program, we train teams on how to give and receive feedback effectively, ensuring it’s seen as a positive development tool rather than criticism.

Non-verbal communication is often overlooked but is equally important. In fact, 55% of our message is conveyed through body language, 38% through tone of voice, and only 7% through the actual words spoken. This means that over half of our communication is non-verbal, highlighting the importance of how we use our body language, facial expressions, gestures, and other forms of non-verbal communication. Being aware of your non-verbal cues and interpreting those of others can enhance understanding and build rapport. We teach techniques for aligning non-verbal communication with verbal messages to ensure consistency and clarity.

Adaptability is another key component. Effective communication requires flexibility and the willingness to adjust your approach based on the situation and the individuals involved. This might mean altering your communication style when interacting with different team members or adjusting your message based on the feedback you receive. Being adaptable also involves being open to new ideas and willing to change your perspective when presented with new information.

Building trust through communication is essential for any successful organisation. Trust is established when communication is consistent, transparent, and respectful. When team members trust each other, they are more likely to collaborate effectively and take risks, leading to innovation and improved performance. In our program, we focus on building a foundation of trust by encouraging open dialogue and creating a safe space for sharing ideas and concerns.

Creating a positive communication culture involves setting the tone from the top. Leaders play a crucial role in modeling effective communication behaviours. When leaders prioritise communication, they set an example for the rest of the organisation. This can involve regular check-ins, open forums for feedback, and encouraging a culture of continuous improvement. By demonstrating the importance of communication, leaders can inspire their teams to follow suit.

Effective communication is not a one-time effort but an ongoing process.

It requires continuous reflection, learning, and adaptation. Organisations that invest in developing their communication skills are better equipped to navigate challenges, foster innovation, and build strong, collaborative teams.

While one-off workshops may provide a temporary boost, they often fail to drive long-term behaviour change. To ensure a return on investment, I highly recommend that you facilitate ongoing support and reinforcement of any communication training programs. Here are the top five ways to achieve this:

  • Regular follow up sessions – consider scheduling monthly or quarterly follow up sessions to keep communication skills fresh.  Use these sessions to practice and refine techniques and build confidence through role playing and scenarios.
  • Coaching and mentoring programs – pair employees with experienced coaches or mentors (or an accountability buddy) who can provide guidance and feedback. Set up regular one-on-one meetings to discuss progress and identify areas for improvement.
  • Integration into daily activities – incorporate communication exercises into team meetings and daily briefings. Use communication tools and techniques during project planning, problem-solving, and decision-making processes.
  • Create a culture of feedback – encourage regular feedback loops, both formal and informal, within teams and across the organisation. Train your people to give and receive constructive feedback in a supportive manner.
  • Ongoing learning opportunities – Offer advanced communication workshops and refresher courses to build on initial training. Provide access to online courses, webinars, and other learning materials related to communication.

In a nutshell, improving communication within your team and with your clients can transform your organisation. When everyone feels heard and understood, it leads to stronger collaboration, innovation, and ultimately, success. So, let’s bust that myth and start focusing on what truly makes a difference – effective communication!

By prioritising these communication strategies, you can create a more cohesive, productive, and successful organisation.

If you are curious to learn more about how effective communication could benefit YOUR team or organisation, book a free Discovery Call with me, or check out the free Pressure Test for Teams to gain valuable insights in your people.

Carley Nicholson
[email protected]