A few months ago, a colleague called and asked if I would write his wedding toast. This struck me as odd given I have never met his partner. When I told him I wasn’t qualified, he said, but you’re such a good writer. Thanks for the compliment but being a good writer doesn’t translate to developing a good toast. A toast is based on shared experiences and stories you can tell that involve the people you are toasting. Toasts should be personal and sentimental. A toast should have heart. You can’t do that if you don’t know the people you’re toasting.
What goes into a good toast also translates to business communication. The starting point is knowing your audience. If you don’t understand who they are and what they care about, you can’t fully engage, influence, or connect with them which can cause problems in the workplace.
A study published in Grammarly Business suggests over 85% of executives and employees point to ineffective communication and collaboration as the main causes of workplace failures. For companies with 100 employees, the report says poor communication costs up to $420,000 per year, while larger organizations of 100,000 or more employees can lose an average of 62 million dollars per year.
While profit is important to any business, the pandemic has shifted the priorities of many workers. United States labor statistics report more than 4 million people have left their jobs each month so far in 2022 as they reconsider how they want to spend their time. A report published by McKinsey and Co. in August which surveyed more than 13,000 people across the world found 40% are considering quitting their jobs in the next 3-6 months.
No longer will focusing solely on bonuses and salary increases guarantee productivity and loyalty. Communicating honestly, transparently and frequently is more important than ever to boost morale and create a work environment others want to be a part of.
These five tips can help you do just that.
Say thank you
It’s easy to tell someone what they are doing wrong. It should be just as easy to compliment and provide positive feedback to make people feel valued and appreciated. A simple thank you can sometimes motivate more than money.
In the absence of information, innuendo and rumor fill the gap. Providing accurate information to keep people informed minimizes misinformation and can lead to more effective decision making. Leaders who listen, encourage idea sharing and ask thoughtful questions are also perceived as people who care about what others think.
Make it personal
Ross Born, former CEO of Just Born, the company known for marshmallow peeps is one of my favorite leaders. When he was at the helm, he used to join employees in the lunchroom for weekly chats to learn more about their interests, families and life outside of work. Employees felt connected to Ross because he was genuinely interested in them as people and focused on building relationships.
Create a safe environment
If you’ve worked long enough, you’ve experienced the difference between a compassionate and uncaring manager. The compassionate manager creates a safe environment where people feel secure to voice concerns, ask questions and share ideas which promotes trust and loyalty. The insensitive manager can be self-absorbed and lack empathy which leads to low morale, decreased productivity and increased turnover.
Lead by example
I used to have a boss who was fond of saying, my door is always open. Yet, his door was always closed unless you were a higher up or someone, he considered important. The old saying “actions speak louder than words” couldn’t be truer in this situation. To lead by example, it’s important to remember what you say and what you do should be synonymous.
Like a toast, business communication should be sincere, candid and thoughtful. Like a toast, it doesn’t need to be long winded or perfect. Say what you feel. Keep it simple. Speak from the heart.
Unlike a wedding toast, however, please leave the bad jokes and embarrassing stories at home.