Profit is not just about how much money you make. It’s about how you make it too. And how likely you are to make that money again and again, so you create a sustainable business that will be around for the long term.
This longevity will come as much from how you communicate as it will from what you sell, because how you treat your staff directly affects how they treat your business – which, of course, really means how they treat your customers.
Good communication is an investment, which can generate a real return. Undercut that investment, and you could cause significant harm to your business.
Unfortunately, businesses today are failing to recognise the true value of an investment in communication. This means poor communication skills are affecting the profits of businesses up and down the country – irrespective of their size or what they do.
I fail to understand why so many business leaders class communication as a soft skill.
There’s nothing soft about the ability to communicate in a way that inspires others and leads change; that develops consensus and shared understanding; that creates and maintains valuable connections; and that drives consistent and sustainable improvements in performance.
Right now, businesses need to take communication more seriously, and they need to turn what they’re doing on its head.
Elephant in the room
Businesses tend to speak to their staff using transactional communication via their HR and comms departments.
One bank manager I met told me that his head office had emailed staff to say that if they needed to speak to HR, they first had to submit a question through a portal. “I’m a bank manager,” he said. “Stuff is raining down around my ears, I’m so stressed out. I just want to speak to somebody.” That’s transactional communication.
In situations like this, how will HR ever get to know the people that they’re supposed to be looking after? How will they get to speak directly to them and form a relationship that has value? This is where companies should move away from a technology-driven model, and instead take transactional communication back to something that is open, perceptive, and relational.
The magic formula
There is a pretty simple formula for success. As I already mentioned, if you look after your employees, they will look after your customers.
And customers want one of two things. They either want speed and convenience – what Amazon do so well – or they want an experience with an emotional connection, where they can talk to actual human beings, not bots.
However, most businesses prioritise process and technology over their people. And in doing so, they position their people as an inconvenience.
But by making sure that your people are your priority (and that means having the processes in place that enable direct communication), you stand to profit.
The bottom line? Always have people at the heart of your business.