Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Impact Of Communications On Business Relationships




Globalisation is changing the landscape of business.



Globalisation, which is simply the interplay of international trade, culture, socio-economic ties and free flow of technology and expertise, is forcing more organisations and indeed entire countries, to remain competitive.



You may recall, with some amusement,  the well-known saying that the only constants in life are death and taxes. However, I would add a third – change.  People change; systems upgrade; trends transform. And globalisation, with its dual functions of progress and inequality, is the ultimate driver of both extremes.   




So what does all this mean?




It means that in the business world, or “Corporateville”, as I have dubbed it in this postorganisations  seeking to remain relevant must seriously enhance their business relationships for increased effectiveness and for higher profitability. One certain way of achieving this desired state is with communications.




Operational and technical segments of an organisation, which are easily identifiable, could quickly be upgraded to meet process requirements and technological demands. However, it becomes difficult to consider communications as a crucial tool which could be used by Management to compliment its business goals. This is due to the fact that the communications segment is often limited to the traditional function of relaying information to different stakeholders via  different platforms, such as via  the Internet, the company's intranet and the media.



However, in this age of tough competition and evolving technology, it is interesting to note that communications could actually impact businesses in two unexpected ways:






1) By fostering positive attitudinal and behavioural tendencies in the organisation.



2) By boosting corporate reputation.







Fostering positive attitudinal and behavioural tendencies  


Clear and jargon-free communications, (encompassing all facets of information dissemination such as verbal statements, video conference calls, emails, faxes, memos, formal press releases and social media), not only promote transparency but also infuse a perception of ethicality at the workplace. The employees would also feel valued when they are informed of unfolding patterns and would be more inclined to render their support to the organisation. This is especially relevant if the information provided is accurate, addresses their concerns and tackles the six basic components of a good Communications Strategy for a proposed plan/initiative/action. The employees would become more committed to the company, (positive attitudinal perceptions) and would engage in 'extra-role' behaviours. Such behaviours - which are  defined in organisational behavioural science as positive acts not listed in formal job designations, i.e. assisting colleagues in job-related tasks - directly boost performance and (by extension), increase productivity.




This is not all wishful thinking. Empirical proof for the positive effects of commitment  has been well documented in organisational behavioural science. For instance, Meyer & Allen (1997), linked commitment to reduced absenteeism, reduced turnover and higher productivity - all which are markers of organisational effectiveness. I also strongly believe that a continuous 'dose' of good communications  actually drives  commitment.




Similarly, as regards to positive behaviours, Taylor & Tepper (1999), found that ‘extra-role’ actions increased co-worker productivity, which in turn increased organisational performance.




In the context of organisational change, I am convinced that effective communications, in conjunction with innovative leadership, would facilitate both the drive for, and acceptance of change initiatives.




 

Boosting corporate reputation

Consistently accurate and well-scripted communications, particularly those published via external platforms such as press releases in newspapers; on the company's website and blogs; via 'new' media such as social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ etc. all help boost the organisation's external reputation, when used wisely. This development in turn, (as is stated in certain circles), helps create a wider acceptance of the company’s brand, translating to increased sales. Depending on the organisation's  core   business,  strategic  communications  would  also lead to an increased patronage of the organisation's services.




The company, now perceived to be a responsible corporate citizen, is  likely to enjoy the support of vital external stakeholders such as investors, consumers, the media and (depending on the sector in which it operates), regulatory authorities.





Conclusion


 




Given thus the importance of communications in strengthening the relationships with employees at the workplace, as well as in influencing business associations with external stakeholders, one fact should be reinforced. Companies must remain competitive by first revamping and then aligning, their communications plans/activities with their business goals.



Indeed effective communications ensure greater relevance in this relatively 'new' era impacted by globalisation by fostering collaborations; by encouraging the exchange of ideas and by inspiring leadership to achieve great feats for the organisation. This development increases efficiency levels, leads  to greater operational flexibility and has the added benefit of companies being able to easily expand to other regions.




A "win-win situation"  as we'd say.




So are you inspired to start incorporating your communications strategies in your business plans?




I would love to hear your views so kindly post comments.





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N:B - Images courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net