Create a Solid Business Communication Plan to Mitigate Legal Issues
By Damien Alderson, Updated: 2023-09-13 (published on 2020-12-24)
Business communication, data flow, and information protection are among the basic building blocks of the current business landscape. This means that having a long-term strategy for internal business communication and data sharing/preserving is of critical importance.
However, there’s a vast number of companies that do not invest in this aspect of their business. They ignore it despite the obvious issues and, potentially, quite hazardous consequences.
Namely, 72% of organizations state that their business doesn’t have solid “data culture” and information protection strategy in place. Additionally, 7 out of 10 employees reporting that they have access to sensitive data they do not feel comfortable handling. Understandably, these numbers do not seem too encouraging, which is why the very mindset needs to change.
But, before we go into actionable tips on how to obviate legal-based issues that may arise from poor business communication and data culture, let’s address what business communication is and what are some of its most basic types.
Business Communication for the Layman
First, as we already mentioned, solid data management and smooth communication are the fulcrum of modern businesses. Think about what goes on during the communication between you and your clients, as well as amongst your employees. It can very much make or break an organisation’s success.
Currently, in the workplace arena, proper cooperation and smooth communication are precursors for a productive work environment and a workflow without major bottlenecks. Often, they will determine how successful and efficient teams, projects, and entire projects are.
Essentially, business communication is as one’s ability to emit and receive information pertinent to achieve business goals. Truly, this concept of communication is the main part of an underlying structure that underpins all other aspects of an organization and its day-to-day operations.
Effectively, whether it is the collaboration among existing team members, the training process of new staff members, project leadership, staff-to-client relations or resource management, it is all about the streamlined sharing of ideas and data.
The companies that invest in business communication and make sure their business communication is as effective as possible report better results. Also, are overall more profitable and have better employee retention.
Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the basic types of business communication models:
Dynamic VS Static Business Communication
Basically, the main difference between these two concepts is that dynamic communication involves the flow of information that participants are changing or updating on a regular basis. Also referred to as ‘hot’ communication, it includes multiple individuals altering the data in a collective manner (think Google Sheets, Google Docs, etc).
In a digital collaboration environment, dynamic communication is among the basic components as it enables team-based employees to simultaneously work on the same projects, files, and documents. On the other hand, static communication includes the flow of information that remains consistent over longer periods of time. And, most typically, includes HR policies, Handbooks, technical support pages, certain emails, etc.
Typically, these are a part of an organisation’s intranet system and are not meant to be searched for and used on a daily basis. But, they do need to be accessible every once in a while. The main idea behind static communication is to make a record and account for a point of reference in terms of data.
Top-down VS Bottom-up Business Communication
Top-Down Business Communication
Effectively, this paradigm is based on the chain of command and the employee hierarchy. Usually, top-down communication is based on leadership levels wherein the information is communicated by the leaders into lower-level employees, teams, other departments, and/or the whole organisation. The information management chain is formed through which the communication goes from the top down. Therefore high-level employees have a firm control over how data is spread across the entire staff base.
Example of Top-down Communication:
A top-level company officer implements a change in a certain policy in several steps and all the basic information spreads across other staff and team members. Then, new facts, details or instructions build within each step during the new policy implementation process. This model has certain intrinsic pitfalls as each person within this chain-like structure needs to deliver. Otherwise, information won’t convey accurately and the error will spread through a ripple effect.
Bottom-Up Business Communication
Conversely, in the bottom-down communication, the data travels the other way around. The information goes from the lowest-level team members up and reaches high corporate levels. This model also relies on the competence of each employee. And some form of it can be found in most companies. This is because it is a great way to communicate what the clients are happy or not happy about. It is also great for CEOs having first-hand insight into how lower-level projects are progressing. Essentially, the companies that include this communication structure have to be very mindful of the tools and command chains used to pass the data on in an upward manner. Notably, reducing the risk of erroneous data transfers and bad communication is extremely important here.
Which brings us to:
Tips for Improved Business Communication
Audit Your Current Business Communication Structure
Essentially, every company needs a clear overview of its communication channels. The audit process helps you determine where exactly the room for improvement is in your current structure and practices.
Be sure to conduct a thorough audit of all communication channels across your entire organisation and have a firm grasp of what is currently working well and what the most common bottlenecks are.
Find Parsimonious Solutions And Bridge All The Gaps
Now you have a clear overview of what needs doing. It is time to come up with effective, yet cost-effective solutions to all the issues that may cause your company legal harm. Be sure to have a firm roadmap for your business communication model. Then start to implement all the necessary steps that would allow you to have an error-proof structure. It needs to be homogeneously solid across all company levels.
Consider Using Appropriate Software
The quantity of sensitive data that flows through calls and emails is vast, which renders these channels risk-charged, in some industries more than others. Through proper data tracking and archiving, as well as through call records, your company will always have a firm grasp and control over all types of data. Regardless of its granularity or format.
Make Sure Each Employee Has a Voice and Keep The Structure Consistent
The chain of command is a must. However, each link in this chain has to feel like he/she is contributing. This is the cornerstone of healthy and solid business communication. Each conversation within your workforce should carry out with this in mind. This is the most organic way to create a healthy communication-based culture, especially if this model is consistent across all staff levels.
Truly, it is not easy to come up with and implement a working business communication structure. It involves a dynamic, symbiotic-like combination of infrastructure and mindset that requires a serious commitment in order to work. This type of culture is not easy to build and depends upon pretty much each and every employee. Once you have everyone on board, as well as a firm and promising roadmap, you will be able to create the communications culture everyone deserves.
Not only will you, in doing that, mitigate potential legal issues, but you will also soon start seeing improvement in productivity and employee happiness as well.
About the author: Damian is a business consultant and a freelance blogger from New York. He writes about the latest tech solutions and marketing insights. Follow him on Twitter for more articles.
This article does not constitute legal advice.
The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.