Relationships and communication are crucial aspects of today’s business environment. In today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing business landscape, it is essential for businesses to establish strong relationships with their clients, suppliers, and partners to stay ahead of the competition.
Effective communication is critical to building and maintaining these relationships. It enables businesses to share information, ideas, and feedback, and collaborate effectively with their stakeholders, both internal and external. Sincere and consistent communication also helps businesses establish trust, which is essential for building long-term relationships.
In today’s digital age, there are many ways businesses can communicate with their stakeholders. Email, social media, video conferencing, and of course, the phone, are all popular communication channels that businesses can use to connect with their customers, suppliers, and partners.
While these tools have made communication easier, they have also created new challenges. For example, with so many communication channels available (and I did not even mention face-to-face), it can be challenging to determine which one to use for a particular message or audience. Additionally, digital communication can lack the personal touch of face-to-face because it is one-way communication. Two-way communication is critical in building strong relationships.
That is why it is important for businesses to develop effective communication strategies that balance the benefits of digital communication with the need for personal interaction. This can include strategies such as scheduling regular face-to-face meetings (video calls are a close second choice), training employees on effective communication skills, and establishing guidelines for the appropriate use other communication channels. For example, some businesses may prefer employees communicate via email versus text, or video calls versus phone. A business should consider the generational preferences, both of their clients and the employees.
The Beginning of Change
What happened, without warning, in March 2020. Everyone was unprepared. That is when smart businesses learned to pivot and adjust. Others got left behind, and many did not survive this changed business environment. Suddenly, businesses and families, went from daily face-to-face activities and routines to new virtual activities and routines. What we did learn was the virtual world is here to stay, at least to a certain extent in most workplaces. And the world is a smaller place since many businesses, especially the businesses who offer a service, can do business anywhere on the globe.
Many hoped the convenience of the virtual environment was here to stay. Employees saved valuable time not having to commute, families learned to spend quality time together, and video calls allowed many to carry on meeting with clients, having team meetings. Students studied at online school or university, and even doctors held virtual or phone appointments. The reality is we missed interacting with important and valuable clients, prospective clients, and other stakeholders. Employees did their work, but teamwork was challenged, and new employees never got to know their peers beyond work-related email and video meetings.
“Every team has individuals with unique communication styles. Understanding other styles builds more effective relationships in the workplace”.
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Gradually business interactions became a hybrid model of face-to-face, or return to work, and continued video meetings from home offices. Many considered this an inconvenience, disrupting the flexibility of a home office, breaks that were not mandated, the ability to dress casually, and saving time and money by not having to drive to and from work.
This changed business environment continues to be a dilemma for employers and employees alike, and the avoidance of communication between all stakeholders can be to blame. Along came the Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting, further disrupting an already fragile workplace environment. Employees ask, “What is in it for me to return to work full time”, and business owners and leaders often decide it’s just better and that is how it has always been. The reality is businesses are based on relationships. Internal and external relationships that prioritize trust. When these relationships are challenged, or do not exist, the business suffers.
Change is inevitable for survival, whether in business or not. What we can do is embrace the fact that the future will bring change, and plan for the inevitable. Brainstorm as a team, and always ask, “What should we do differently, what are we doing well, what are we not doing, and what are we doing that we should not be”. Technology is unlimited; learn more about it. Businesses should be prepared for today, and plan strategically for the next two and five years.
Conduct a SWOC and a PEST analysis. (read more about Strategic Planning here) so that both external and internal factors that impact the business now, and in the future, are considered. Despite all the relevant factors reviewed and discussed, keep the priority focus on the people. Change cannot be effectively or successfully managed without the right people, and they must feel valued and appreciated so they are engaged to support upcoming change.
Study those in the know; there are many excellent books, podcasts, and interviews to learn from. As a business owner or leader, study other markets to learn more what others are doing to plan for change. Do not get stuck in the past. Be reminded of March 2020.
Overall, relationships and communication are critical to success in today’s business environment. By building strong relationships and using effective communication strategies, businesses can establish trust, foster collaboration, and stay ahead of the competition.
“Before LinkedIn and other social networks, in the sales world ABC stood for “always be closing”. Now it means, “always be connecting”.” – Jill Rowley