logo image

ATD Blog

Purposeful Communication in the Workplace


Fri Mar 24 2017

Purposeful Communication in the Workplace
Purposeful Communication in the Workplace-bd0441a81ca966a0be5d55a7672b61c5a84a562601ed93696f55b372e32892ad

Purposeful Communication in the Workplace-c34183e979e5b9d49fc2be004eaa4d5cd5e712aabe70449c6f53adf047faf4c8

Communication is one of the most important aspects of our jobs. When we discuss communication it is easy to focus on concerns about selecting the right communication technology or being aware of our body language, but it is the outcome of our message that can help us determine the success of our communication. Purposeful communication allows leaders to think through the reason for the communication, the best method of communication, and the eventual resolution of the discussion. 


Leaders fail when they give direction without communication, talk without communicating, or speak without listening. These are challenges that leaders must face when communicating with their team and their peers. According to a study of 4,000 people by HR Magazine, 46 percent of employees were unsure of what was being asked of them by their line manager when given tasks, and 37 percent experienced this uncertainty between one and three times a day. Leaders must meet the basic needs of the individual to successfully communicate with their employees. Fortunately, this is easy to accomplish if you approach the discussion in an open, thoughtful way. The following chart can help leaders address some of the individual’s concerns.

Why is this happening?

The most successful messages address individual concerns first. By answering questions such as why you need help, why a change is occurring, or why a project has become a priority, you help people involved in the communication make connections to how they can carry out this change in a positive manner. 

How can I help? 

It’s important to provide employees with information about how they can support company initiatives and positively effect change. The 2017 State of the American Workforce Poll by Gallup shows that employees who are engaged have lower turnover and absenteeism with higher productivity, sales, and profitability. Communicating clear and definitive expectations that tie back to company goals will increase engagement and employees’ satisfaction in their work. 

What changes for me? 

One of the challenges that companies have is communicating change. Without definitive communication about what is happening, employees will make assumptions about the impact on their jobs and careers. It’s important to provide specific information to employees that shows how the change may affect their everyday work and future projects.  

Where can I go with questions? 

Employees should be given a variety of opportunities to ask questions of their leaders and managers. Involve your human resources team early because they can help you create a communication strategy. This communication strategy can help facilitate discussion, develop FAQs, and garner buy-in at all levels in the organization. This strategy should give employees the opportunity to participate in the change early on, and provide materials to help managers facilitate discussions. Experts estimate that effective communication strategies can double employees' acceptance of change. However, many companies focus solely on tactics such as channels, messages, and timing, while failing to do a contextual analysis and consider the audience. Whatever you do, make sure to give employees the opportunity to ask and answer questions during your communication. 


Consider this chart next time you communicate change or direction to your team. Increase employee engagement by improving your communication through listening and responding to questions, identifying what is changing for the employees, clarifying how their help will affect the company’s bottom line, and always explaining what is happening.

Want to learn more? Join me at ATD 2017 Conference & Exposition.

You've Reached ATD Member-only Content

Become an ATD member to continue

Already a member?Sign In


Copyright © 2024 ATD

ASTD changed its name to ATD to meet the growing needs of a dynamic, global profession.

Terms of UsePrivacy NoticeCookie Policy