ISO 9001:2000 recognizes the importance of communication by stating in clause 5.5.3 that the appropriate communication processes must be established within the organization. And, in clause 7.2.3, the standard adds that the organization must determine and implement effective arrangements for communicating with customers.

According to the HR Daily Advisor, a study by Sirota Survey Intelligence shows that the lack of communication is a key reason why initially enthusiastic employees become unmotivated in as little as 6 months after joining their organizations. The survey also shows that a company’s performance at communicating lags far behind any other facet of organizational performance.

Lack of communication is obviously a serious shortcoming. Without communication, teams can’t work together. And, customers are misunderstood. Leaders may try to lead, but without effective communication, employees may not know how to follow.

To improve communication, an article in the HR Daily Advisor suggests these strategies:

Communication begins before conversation. Studies show that 40 percent of what is communicated comes through body language and tone of voice. Both should match the message being delivered. For example, if you say a mistake is not really a big deal, don’t send a different signal by rolling your eyes and wincing.

Communication starts with a name. Nothing establishes rapport better than acknowledging others by their name. But in today’s transient world, names are easy to forget or confuse. Use a memory technique such as connecting the person’s name with someone famous. If you meet George, mentally connect him to George Washington.

Start with small talk. Chatting amiably opens the door to more substantial messages, but, monitor the person’s reaction so you don’t go on too long … and never talk about workplace confidences or gossip.

Tailor conversation to your audience. Talks with a boss, co-worker, or customer require different styles. With bosses, pick the right time and ask honestly for what you need and what they can reasonably deliver. For co-workers, be humble, reliable, and discreet. If customers call with problems, listen, apologize, and offer a solution. And a natural smile, when appropriate, applies in all cases, even on the phone.

Consider your audience when writing. Develop your message for the intended audience and use the appropriate media for communication. Remember that others beyond the intended recipient, and perhaps into the future, may read your written words. Never write what you wouldn’t want to be openly read.

Conduct more effective meetings. Nothing in business seems to irritate people more than useless meetings. So, meet only when necessary, with only the required participants, and always with an agenda. End the meeting by summarizing the decisions and actions. Thank everyone for their involvement. Send them off on a positive note.

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