Brandon Towle

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Why Communication Matters: A Case Study (Part 1)

Communication.

One of those “soft science” buzzwords.

You can hear it now, can’t you? The impassioned HR director energetically extolling the cure-all virtues of “open dialogue,” “honest communication,” and “high performing teams” who learn how to “understand” their teammates and “bring out the best” in every “unique voice.”

Teams Who Communicate Well: Wishful Thinking? 

To some, the fanciful word picture of a highly-engaged, benevolently-bonded, worker-bee-esque community of employees who all get along and defer to one another is just a pie-in-the-sky dream that defies the reality of everyday chaos in the midst of “real world” business. 

The truth is, reality is messy. In the business realm, uncertainty is the only certainty and firefighting seems like some collectively missed career calling, since putting out fires appears to be the only thing you do all day. But that’s exactly why communication is so vital. 

Think about it for a minute – a culture of mature, emotionally intelligent, open communicators in which every voice is empowered to contribute their best to the team’s common goal? That’s the team who wins. And I don’t make such claims lightly. Those conclusions are facts grounded in hard, scientific research. For those who love the “hard” skills and precise measurables, it may seem absurd to pull the trigger on investing valuable time and resources into some vague goal to transform team communication, but throughout the following series you’ll find a combination of concrete science, real-world case studies, and qualitative testimony about the undeniable benefit of going all-in on revamping team communication. 

I think by the end, you’ll realize there’s no “wishful thinking” to the dream of being able to revolutionize your team’s productivity through the way it communicates. Even if you’re skeptical, all I ask is to give me 5 articles. Five short arguments, grounded in research, illustrated by an in-depth case study, and validated by testimony, about why maybe, just maybe, your HR director might not be so crazy after all…

The Secret Weapon of Productivity: Better Communication

Let’s start with a simple observation: while a team’s communication impacts hard metrics like efficiency, productivity, and work quality, it also drives the “softer” success indicators of employee camaraderie, culture, and turnover. Unfortunately, many leaders only pay lip service to the importance of communication, but the overwhelming body of research (both quantitative and qualitative) proves the vital impact of communication on an organization’s ability to innovate, build a healthy, efficient culture, and embrace the value that each unique voice can bring to a team. 

Wherever there are breakdowns in communication or the silencing of undervalued voices and personalities, inefficiency is inevitable. It means a team or an organization is playing without it’s full complement of assets, not to mention that the resources being used are woefully underleveraged without the optimal network of diverse perspectives and catalysts around them to bring out their very best.

So just how much is healthy communication worth to a company? 

About a 47% increase in returns to shareholders.

If profitability holds any sway in decision-making, then leaders would do well to heed the discoveries of a 2009 Watson Wyatt study highlighted by the Harvard Business Review.

According to the study, “effective internal communications can keep employees engaged in the business and help companies retain key talent, provide consistent value to customers, and deliver superior financial performance to shareholders” to the tune of a “47% higher return to shareholders over a five-year period (mid-2004 to mid-2009).”

If improving return to stakeholders by nearly 50% doesn’t get your attention, I’m not sure what will. Even investing in standard improvements such as the newest marketing strategies or adopting a high-end enterprise management system struggles to compare with that kind of ROI. 

What Do You Want From Your Investment?

Think about your other capital intensive investments – from new machinery and software to revamped branding and strategic alliances or acquisitions – what are you chasing? 

Productivity? Scalability? Agility? Flexibility? 

These are all objectives to which communication proves crucially and massively impactful. Teams who understand each other, communicate effectively, and know how to create an environment that maximizes every individual’s contribution – those are the teams who optimize productivity. They are more agile and flexible in their ability to respond to the ever-shifting competitive landscape. Such teams actually grow and expand the overall leadership capacity of the team and it’s component members, thereby improving the leadership pipeline of an organization and ensuring it’s sustainability.  

In other words, they extend and drive a company’s scalability by internally increasing leadership depth, skill, and influence. Such resources are integral to success in today’s far-flung, intertwined environment of personal relationship and global interconnectedness.

The Proof Is In The Pudding: Jayne’s Construction Case Study

The upcoming 5-part case study series will take an extended look at the importance of improving team communication through the lens of a general contracting company in Albuquerque, NM called “Jayne’s Construction.”  

After taking stock of their leadership pipeline across all four offices, the company realized it struggled to consistently train, retain, and cultivate leaders of high enough caliber to sufficiently sustain growth. Because the leadership and communication culture suffered, so did scalability. Their inconsistent process for developing leadership capacity and team performance limited their ability to capitalize on growth opportunities. Fortunately, the leadership team embraced humility and began looking for help to fill those needs.  

In our GiANT Worldwide Partner, Maria Guy, Jayne’s found an experienced construction executive with the tools, insights, communication, and leadership expertise to identify and address their pain points. But her process was not a one-off, blink-and-you-miss-it experience. It’s captured in a program we call “Transforming Team Communication.” As a flexible integration program, we have both associates and online tools to fit any organization’s in-person or digital integration needs. Transforming Team Communication takes the lessons learned through the Jayne’s Construction experience and delivers them to any team around the world, fulfilling our commitment to leaders everywhere who are dedicated to the following ideal:

“To help their teams communicate more clearly, deepen relational trust, unlock potential, and accelerate performance by expanding leadership capacity and increasing efficiency.”

So take a few minutes out of your day for the next two weeks and join us as we explore the pain points, the “aha’s,” the scalable solutions, and the transformative results of the Jayne’s Construction leadership journey.

I would say “what do you have to lose by following along,” but I think the Harvard Business Review made it quite clear what’s at stake: 

  • 47% higher returns 
  • Teams that outproduce the competition
  • A healthy culture that decreases turnover and increases engagement

So the real question isn’t whether to invest in transforming your team’s communication…

The real question is…can you afford not to?

This was originally posted by GiANT Worldwide and I wanted to share it here as well. If you’re interested in learning more about how to transform team communication, I’m happy to schedule a meeting to discuss. Just click the contact button and let me know!

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