From the New Zealand All Blacks, to the surgical team in an operating theatre, to the parents working together to raise their kids – teams come in all shapes and sizes but they all have one thing in common: their success relies on effective communication.

Communication comes from the latin word communicare, meaning ‘to share’. We can define communication as: “the process of using words, sounds, signals and behaviours to share information and ideas with someone else.”

Effective vs. ineffective communication

When those words, sounds, signals and behaviours are seen, heard, interpreted and understood by the receiver in the way the sender had intended, the communication is said to have been effective. There is a shared understanding of the information or idea.

If the receiver mishears or misinterprets those signals and behaviours however, instead of shared understanding, we have misunderstanding and confusion. The communication has been ineffective.

Many business issues arise as a result of misinterpretation and misunderstandings that can be traced back to ineffective communication.

What could your team achieve with 40 per cent more time?

If you consider this in the context of your team – whether that’s a team of 2, 200 or 2,000 – these misunderstandings (a lack of shared understanding) can cost you and your business time, money, resources, employees, customers and even your reputation.

In fact, in their research, SIS International Research discovered that employees within small to medium-sized businesses spend around 17.5 hours a week each clarifying misunderstandings as a result of poor communication.

That’s 40 per cent of the working week. Think about that for a moment. What results could you and your team achieve if you could get that time back?

The highway to high-performance

On the flip side, when communication is effective it creates shared understanding, shared meaning and a common connection amongst your team. This helps to create a solid platform for trust to be built.

We know from the likes of Gallup and Great Places to Work that trust in leadership is one of the primary contributors to high employee engagement.

Gallup defines engaged employees as someone who is “ involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace”. As a result, they are far more likely to give discretionary effort which increases their overall performance and productivity.

And this delivers greater levels of success and better outcomes not only for the individual themselves, but for your team, your business and your customers.

So if you want to create a highly engaged, high-performing team, then it all starts with effective leadership communication.