Building employees' global communication skills to create a competitive advantage
Business leaders searching for competitive advantage often miss one vital point.
In an increasingly global world, the factor that can make the biggest difference is how effectively your employees communicate with customers, partners, suppliers, and each other.
It’s true that new technologies and processes play an essential part in helping businesses grow. But good communication is the cornerstone of a successful organisation.
And what’s often overlooked is that communication is critical in every job role. Your employees’ communication abilities can make or break your business – whether they’re dealing with customers, suppliers, partners, vendors, investors or simply each other.
After all, poor communication is a sure-fire route to confusion, expensive errors, low morale and unhappy customers.
But done well, communication promotes clear goals, effective working and strong relationships with customers and colleagues worldwide. In other words, it gives you the building-blocks for global business success.
Put simply, people with effective communication skills perform better – right across the organisation. Here are four examples.
Someone recruiting a procurement specialist is likely to focus on business skills like negotiation and analytical ability.
But another major part of the job is communicating with a wide range of stakeholders – from suppliers and customers, to senior management. So procurement staff must be able to express themselves clearly and effectively.
But that’s just the start. They also need to adapt how they communicate to different needs and viewpoints. This is an essential skill in the global business environment, where procurement professionals regularly deal with overseas suppliers and customers.
All this helps to forge good personal relationships, which is critical to sourcing and purchasing. It builds trust, helps the process run smoothly and makes it easier to influence outcomes.
What’s more, good communicators are more likely to encourage a wider range of viewpoints to come to the table. With new ideas and fresh thinking, a procurement specialist can make decisions that give your business a competitive edge.
As procurement becomes a more strategic function and procurement teams work more internationally to negotiate the best contracts, effective communication skills also includes cross-cultural understanding. This may mean investing in programmes that help procurement specialists develop stronger communication skills so that they are equipped to bring the best value to their organisation.
HR professionals are constantly interacting with employees and potential employees. Their communication style should help to create credibility and trust in their organisation. If they are effective communicators, they can make employees more engaged and more productive, supporting the corporate strategy and change management – all of which help to achieve your business objectives.
Communication is partly about listening - not just to words, but to the context, the tone of voice, the body language. Being trained to listen well and understand non-verbal cues not only helps HR managers to hire the right people; it also helps them to proactively address potential problems and understand diverse points of view. This makes it more likely that they’ll find the best solution and resolve an issue before it escalates.
Effective communicators can also handle potentially difficult situations – like grievances or salary discussions – in a way that supports the employee as far as possible while minimising business cost and risk.
And as workers increasingly move around the world, HR professionals play a crucial role in identifying and developing talent from different markets and helping them integrate into the corporate culture.
Naturally, your sales department plays a pivotal role in your success. Interacting directly with your customers, salespeople can find out what they need and persuade them that you can provide it.
Without this, it doesn’t matter how good your price is, or how brilliant your product. So excellent communication is obviously a crucial skill for salespeople.
It helps them generate leads, convert them to sales and build customer trust and satisfaction – which can bring in more sales through reviews and recommendations.
Effective communication skills help salespeople build a connection that keeps customers coming back. As every business knows, that’s far more cost-effective than finding new ones.
All this means that salespeople need to be able to ‘read’ people exceptionally well – from what they’re not saying, to what they care about.
Then they must adapt their communication style to respond in the most effective way, managing to be persuasive while still inspiring trust.
It’s a tall order, but the right communication skills can make it happen – helping you increase your revenue, build your reputation and win more business.
It’s almost impossible to list all the reasons why marketers need to be excellent communicators.
Depending on their exact role, they might have to elicit information on customer needs and pain points; convey these clearly within the business; and communicate the corporate vision persuasively.
And if they’re on the creative side, they need to be able to create compelling marketing materials that grab attention, build trust in your brand, bring in orders and boost your bottom line.
Then there’s briefing suppliers, negotiating with stakeholders … the list goes on.
Sales works with customers, procurement focuses on vendors, and HR speaks primarily with employees. Marketing communicates with all these audiences - existing and potential customers, agencies and suppliers, colleagues and business partners. And as with other functions, today’s marketers need to build productive relationships across the globe. Virtual teams and global business are becoming common and their our audience could be based anywhere in the world. To be an effective marketeer, it’s essential that we are able to communicate confidently across borders and cultures.
A competitive advantage in global business
Great communication strengthens relationships, solves problems and improves performance. So they’re vital for all business professionals, whatever their role.
As organisations become more global, developing effective communication skills are the key to building a resilient business and gaining a real competitive edge. This should be a key factor in evaluating talent development and employee training programmes.