$62.4 Million Come Back

Key Solution to Million Dollar Come Back | By: Kristen Halderman | September 19, 2019

We have all experienced that one project that got messed up because that one person forgot to relay that one piece of information to that one other person. 

In fact, one third of all projects end this way. 

Financially speaking, a study of 400 companies with 100,000 employees each reported an average loss of $62.4 million per year due to poor communication. 


Luckily, there is a “simple” fix to this problem. The key solution to a million dollar issue is to just have better communication. 

To help, here are two key practices to promote better communication in the workplace.

1. Ask questions.

When asked about the benefits of questions, Alison Wood Brooks, professor at Harvard University, answered by explaining that “most people do not ask enough questions and they’re missing out on many, many benefits, including that asking questions opens up the door for the exchange of information. When I ask you questions, … you’re going to answer most likely and I’m going to learn what’s in your mind. So that’s information exchange, it’s very valuable. In addition to information exchange, we know that asking questions increases interpersonal liking because I’m showing that I’m interested in learning and what’s in your mind, I seem very responsive to you and empathic and I’m taking your perspective and I care about you. And that’s likable…. We also know that asking questions increases persuasion …  because I’m taking your perspective, instead of trying to sell, sell, sell, I’m learning what you need and then I can deliver that to you.” 

Asking questions should also be prominent between employee and employer. It’s much easier to explain a question that an employee may have than it is to adjust a mistake that has been made. Likewise, I have found that employers are not bothered by being asked a question and would rather spend time clearly communicating their idea than having it guessed at and done incorrectly. 

2. “Say what you mean and mean what you say”

In a similar vein of asking a question for clarity, saying what you mean can aid in avoiding confusion. For example, if you would like an assignment completed by Friday close of business (COB), request it to be on your desk by Friday COB, not as soon as possible. This leaves for no confusion or gray area. John R. Stoker, author of Overcoming Fake Talk: How to Hold Real Conversations that Create Respect, Build Relationships, and Get Results describes this vague talk as “counterfeit conversations.” This means that we dance around the point of exactly what we want to say instead of just saying it. 

The other piece of this saying is to “mean what you say.” Kathy Miles writes on the importance of integrity in the workplace. She says, primarily, integrity in the workplace is so important as these traits foster a positive workplace culture. One where there is open communication, good decision making and a strong moral compass guiding all decisions and actions. Whereas, irresponsible behavior and distrust can make a work environment uncomfortable and tense.

If you are known for your integrity, you will gain trust and respect from the people around you.

Integrity is not just important on a personal level, it is also vitally important at a workplace level. Organizations known for their integrity perform better.” 

Asking questions, saying what you mean, and meaning what you say are very simple practices that lead towards more effective communication. They may not immediately resolve the $62.4 million deficit, but they will increase the number of projects completed and decrease loss of revenue in your department.