Don’t Make Training One More Source of Wasted Company Time

Don’t Make Training One More Source of Wasted Company Time

If employees appear unproductive — like they don’t have enough time to do their job — it’s often because their time is being used inefficiently. When researching unproductive organizations, Bain & Company point to common factors like excessive e-communications, unnecessary meetings, and bureaucratic processes.

These inefficiencies often share a common denominator: poor communication. And they do, in fact, tend to create environments where people do not have time to do the jobs they’ve been hired for or make the impact on the organization that you had hoped they would. Instead, employees are often busy sorting through excess email, editing and revising other people’s work, and mitigating misunderstandings. All of that wasted time is costing businesses $62.4 million per year.

Costly inefficiencies obviously can’t fix themselves. But solutions like business coaching and communications training that people can relate to and immediately apply in their work can make a huge difference.

Are your employees struggling to do their jobs? Here are six common sources of wasted time and examples of how good communication training can help give that time back to your employees.

1. Workplace stress: A hidden productivity thief

Research has shown that as employee stress increases, productivity decreases. Stress also has a negative impact on psychological well-being at work and job satisfaction. You might be asking: Where’s this stress coming from? One source is poor communication. One study found that 80% of the U.S. workforce (based on 1,000 survey respondents) reported feeling stressed because of ineffective company communication.

How effective communication training can help

Take meetings and presentations, for example. Poorly run meetings and presentations cause people’s minds to wander and squander time. They have always contributed to employee stress and lost productivity. Now the problem is exacerbated by the increase in virtual presentations — one result of more companies moving to hybrid work models with more remote employees.

Training that keenly and effectively focuses on ways to improve virtual meetings and presentations will go a long way toward reducing wasted time and in turn help reduce workplace stress by giving people more time to do what matters to them — and to the company. Two ways to improve are having a “co-pilot” to help manage the technical side of virtual meetings and co-presenting with a team. Both options will help avert disruptions, overcome technical glitches, better engage the audience, and look more professional.

2. Excessive digital communication: A constant, major distraction

We are all drowning in digital information coming at us 24 hours a day through so many channels: instant messenger, email, chat apps, text messages, internal portals, and on and on. Email alone is a huge distraction. People sent and received 306 billion emails in 2020, and employees spent 44% more time reading emails in 2020 than in three years prior. Phone notifications are another distractor: The average person gets between 65 and 80 phone notifications a day. It’s no wonder why people struggle to maintain focus and productivity in a world where we’re constantly inundated with breaking news, urgent requests, and outrageous memes flooding our screens.

How effective communication training can help

Consider training that will help you and your team be part of the solution rather than the problem. Effective communication training can teach your team to write emails that cut through the noise and stand out in someone’s inbox — emails that don’t add to their stress level.
The right communication training will make sure that when you send an email, the people on the other end actually want to read it, rather than having the immediate reaction that it’s one more digital transmission they have to worry about, wonder about, ignore completely, or send to their trash folder.

3. Poorly crafted communications: Riding the rewrite merry-go-round

If you’re a leader who cares about and pays attention to how your people deliver their ideas — or help you deliver yours — you’ve probably said to yourself, “I have 5 million things to do. I don’t have time to spend 20 hours editing and re-editing this memo, slide deck, one-pager, etc., but it just isn’t there yet.” Editing and revising presentations in particular is a huge source of lost productivity for leaders. But we shouldn’t be surprised. Employees seeking to make a good impression often try to dazzle managers, leadership, and audiences with their knowledge, often in the form of massive presentation decks. The same is true for white papers, case studies, and more.

How effective communication training can help

Regardless of its format, audience, or desired outcome, communication that needs rounds of rewriting and massaging almost always fails to tell a clear, engaging story. That’s because communication efforts that waste time and increase stress levels during their development are often created in the absence of a practical, sensible road map.

Effective communication training that centers on this critical early stage of creating an engaging story will save everyone time and headaches in the long run. The right communication training will reduce the need for rewrites if it teaches people how to use a proven, repeatable framework for organizing their data, insights, and recommendations so they can tell audience-centric business stories faster and with fewer words (and fewer slides).

4. Meetings, meetings, meetings: Work time down the drain

Whether completely virtual, on-site, or hybrid, meetings are often a time sink for everyone involved. One survey found that 65% of senior managers feel meetings keep them from completing their work. Seven in 10 said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. And leaders aren’t alone in feeling that way. A whopping 91% of employees have daydreamed during meetings, while 39% have slept, and 73% admit they have worked on other things during meetings. Now, with more meetings being conducted online, people are probably even less engaged in their meetings.

How effective communication training can help

Neuroscience tells us that our brains respond more powerfully to stories than to facts and data. So why do so many meetings serve up nothing but a meandering mountain of facts and data? No wonder meeting participants feel they’d be better off skipping most meetings. Communication training that teaches people how to structure their information so it follows the classic arc of storytelling will achieve two big wins. Your meetings will have more engaged participants, and everyone will get time back to get their work done

5. Lack of role clarity: You want me to do what?

When employees have role clarity, they have a clear understanding of their tasks, responsibilities, and processes at work. It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Yet almost 50% of employees currently lack role clarity. This is no small matter. Data shows that these employees are costing companies money. Employees who are very clear about what is expected of them and how their jobs are supposed to get done are 53% more efficient and 27% more effective than their coworkers who experience role ambiguity.

How effective communication training can help

When employees lack role clarity, the problem is often that roles are poorly communicated. It doesn’t matter how clearly your company’s roles are defined. If they’re not communicated in a way that employees can relate to them, take them to heart, and act on them, then you greatly diminish the chances of achieving role clarity and optimal job performance.

Effective communication training can help leaders and managers avoid this pitfall by applying elements of great storytelling to convey an employee’s role so the message will positively impact the employee’s job behavior. For example, just as great storytellers first build empathy with their audiences, managers can learn to take the time to better understand how employees view their jobs, rather than simply handing them their role descriptions. Managers can also apply the storytelling technique of making their communication about their audience — asking what challenges the employee is facing on the job or what confusion or lack of clarity they may have.

6. People working on their own stuff during training

How many times have you heard leadership question the value of training because people use the time to take care of their own work, or worse, spend that time on social media or checking their email? How often have employees and managers complained about how much time is spent on training? They know training can be helpful, sometimes even critical, but they can’t afford to spend so much time away from their daily responsibilities.

How do you reduce time spent in employee training without compromising its effectiveness?

How effective communication training can help

People want learning that sticks and that can be put to practical use right away. The right communication training will use your team’s time more effectively because people will be engaged in learning that is not only directly related to their jobs but also can be used immediately.

One practice is the use of deep learning — or the development of in-depth knowledge and problem-solving abilities around a given subject — to build practical skills that people can also transfer to other areas of their work — from running smoother meetings to creating more engaging one-pagers and clearer emails, and more. Another best practice is to minimize disruption to your employees’ workday by using a vendor who will focus on what’s immediately relevant to your team — the projects they’re working on right now.

Turn Training Into a Time Saver

Training can too often seem like a time-consuming, check-the-box obligation — one more source of wasted time. But communication training can pay off in short order when it helps people quickly and effectively learn how to turn their data, facts, and ideas into persuasive narratives. Everyone becomes more efficient when people know how to communicate by telling visual stories that powerfully connect with their audience, regardless of the communication format or delivery channel.

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