Entrepreneurs maximize a business idea when their authentic talents and values are at the core of their business, woven into the fabric of their strategies. And they aren’t always ground breaking. They are often subtle, a slightly different way of seeing or doing, and these subtleties make a world of difference. This has been true for me. When these ‘not-so-ground-breaking’ talents have produced powerful strategies, a world of difference has been created. Some of these feel like best kept secrets, but they really should be a part of the fabric of any great business.

This post is about a ‘not-so-ground-breaking’ strategy that generates long-term ROI: Effective Communication. Giving priority and investment to communication as a core driver of everything successful is extremely powerful. When woven into the company fabric, it strengthens the entire company.

Business leaders concur that effective communication is critical for an organization to deliver successfully. But how many of us are actually walking the talk? It is not a standard principle in today’s fast-paced business climate. We do not view communication as a strategic difference maker. We see it as a tool for creating a productive work environment, not a strategy for long-term success. Is it a strategy (at any level) in your company?

How often do companies take the time to identify problems in communication and then actually implement tangible improvements? And more importantly, how often do they take it to the strategic level, embracing that investment in quality communication is instrumental to a company’s ability to improve and grow? They may be missing out on a significant opportunity.

Our deep investment in communication has proven powerful and profitable, playing a tangible role in individual, team, and thus company success and growth. Management teams become life-long believers when they see their investment result in increased efficiency, productivity, speed of progress, band width for new endeavors, quality, strength of culture and client value (just to name a few). We’ve even had clients refer to it as our best kept secret.

In my experience, virtually all failures can be linked in some way to incomplete, misinterpreted or non-existent communication. It’s just not always easy to identify. Try a simple exercise: Make a list of efforts not meeting expectations, ongoing issues, and unexpected failures. Then identify common elements.

My lists have regularly included:

  • Client confusion that unexpectedly escalated
  • Internal processes that continue to create mistakes, even after improvement
  • Weak hand-offs between teams, making one team appear unorganized and uncommitted
  • Teamwork for improvement or development of a new idea that is off-mark
  • Poor management decisions due to lack of inclusion of stakeholders (and their knowledge)

These issues are unrelated, are external and internal, and occurred at all levels of the company. A common element is break down or absence of effective communication. What a WIN if these issues could be improved or potentially eliminated by focusing on a single underlying problem. Now that’s efficiency.

We expect the professionals we hire to be good communicators, but they still need to be taught the benefit of effective communication and to employ quality practices in all they do. They also need to be held accountable. And management teams have to teach and work by example.

It is easier said than done, but the ROI is real. A true difference maker – for the company, its product or service, and its people. Worth discussing at your next strategic meeting.