Mind reading has traditionally been the preserve of holiday camp magicians and the occasional huckster. But imagine what it could do for your business! No more memos, no more meetings, no more presentations or negotiations or suggestion boxes - just fingers on temples, concentration, and instantaneous results. Messages and ideas flit through the office air, bouncing between brains and unifying the workforce into a single hyper-productive consciousness. Success would be guaranteed!

Sadly, the human mind hasn't quite got the hang of telepathy - even if it had, would anyone really want their boss to read their thoughts? - so we'll have to stick with conventional forms of communication for now. And seeing as there's no grand company-consciousness to tap into, no means to ensure that all the staff think the same way as the management, how you communicate in and around the workplace is tremendously important; if everyone at the company knows what they're supposed to do, why, and where they and the business are headed, it's much easier to be confident that everyone will be doing their best and doing what the organisation needs of them.

Mark is neither magician nor huckster, but area manager for a Home Centre. In order to boost their already substantial share of the home furnishings market, his company is merging with a sofa store: one of their most established competitors. The merger will bring access to a market that's spread more widely across the nation, but there are a number of towns in which both companies have a presence. Mark's area of responsibility covers both a store and a distribution centre that will need to close as a result. However, the company intends no forced redundancies, as staff from the unwanted locations can be transferred to other sections that are expanding.

Yet there's a great deal of concern amongst employees in both sides of the merged organisation, fears for job security and doubt about future roles as the intentions of the new management have failed to get through to the workers on the floor. Mark needs to address this issue, and quickly, to prevent disquiet, demotivation and negativity, and to stop negative rumours before they start. After all, employees would likely understand that the merger will result in certain centres closing, but could not be expected to know the finer details of the plan if they haven't been properly informed - and where the facts are absent, misapprehensions and exaggerations will arise to the detriment of the business as a whole.

So it's clearly essential for Mark to communicate effectively and comprehensibly with employees, and for this he can look to a number of proven techniques for enhanced communication. A good place to start is with the 'three Ps' - that is, practice, planning and positive thinking. These may seem self-explanatory, but it's worth looking deeper to see if improvements can be made. He could perhaps spend more time talking to the staff, so that when important issues come along it's easier for him to put his point across - the familiarity will both encourage employees to listen and trust Mark, and help him to understand how best to communicate with the individuals in question.

He can also take time in advance to prepare all that he needs to say, and try to anticipate likely responses, as he can't expect employees to have confidence in him if he hasn't confidence in his own position. Plus, of course, he shouldn't expect them to view the change positively if he doesn't approach it positively himself.

It's also important for Mark to look beyond himself. He needs to prepare for his words not just to be spoken, but also to be listened to. It's regrettably common for managers to look upon their workforce as closer to an homogeneous mass than the group of individuals that they are, but Mark should know better than to make the same mistake.

By taking the time to understand the concerns and opinions of his staff, Mark will build a healthy rapport, a sounder bond of trust and confidence, and a better understanding of specific concerns that he will need to address. He ought to welcome feedback and comments from employees, to listen carefully and find the value in what he is told, and to always remember that they - not just the company - are directly and personally affected by the change. He must be sympathetic and understanding of concerns and questions, and be willing to counter them directly. And he must always prepare, not prejudge.

Progress, at such an important moment for the company, is reliant upon the entire workforce moving forward together. Mark knows how critical it is that everyone understands the key information, and that everyone is aware of their position in the future shape of the organisation - so there may be no more apt opportunity to develop those communication skills.

A short training course will help greatly, but so will simply keeping in mind the need for Mark to present his information clearly and comprehensibly, and to present himself in a friendly and considerate manner. He knows that, by working closely and building a good relationship with his staff, they can all move towards the future together - for the good of themselves and the company.

And good communication could be the key to your company's future, too. There's no reason not to polish up those skills, skills that can lead your business both to commercial success and a happier working environment.