Leadership Communication Is No Accident
It is pretty common when we ask a business owner about the challenges they face in their organization, in the top five to ten, communication is generally right up there.
Communication is somewhat of “catch all” for a lot of different things that can be happening in any organization. The symptoms can range from conflict, inefficiencies, mistakes, employee turnover, customer dissatisfaction, just to name a few.
Regardless of the symptoms, every leader wants to know what they can do to resolve it.
The following are three hacks I believe are critical principles or practices ever leader needs to consider and practice to improve communication in their organization.
- Active Listening – Most of us can agree, a lot of times when engaged in a conversation you are thinking more about how you are going to respond than really listening and understanding what the other person is saying. It is almost like we fight to be heard. When we don’t take the time to really understand what the other person is saying, our brains fill in the gaps and sometimes we are simply wrong. Slowing down a bit and asking questions for clarification, will go a long way in demonstrating a communication technique often missing in many organizations. I know this can seem almost impossible when you have a lot of different priorities and demands on you, but taking that few extra minutes, here and there, I promise you will save you time in the long run. Seek to clarify!
- Transparency – Often times leaders struggle with how much information to share with their employees. According to the American Management Association, a third of managers and employees feel they don’t know what’s going on in their organization. When people don’t know what is going on, they have a tendency to make it up and unfortunately, they tend to make up a worst case and pass it along to others. Your employees are critical to your success and while they don’t need to know everything going on in your personal life, they do need to know enough about the business to feel involved. It is okay to let them know when there are challenges or when you are working towards a goal. Don’t be afraid to share the good and the bad and to do it often. Put transparency on your radar and find ways to share more information.
- Clarity – It is easy to talk about general information in a business or to generalize things that maybe happening as if it is happening all the time. We have all heard the statements like, “all our customers are unhappy with XYZ change” or “no one is doing ABC”. In reality there is one or two customers that are unhappy, or there is one or two people doing something. It isn’t everyone. Getting more specific in your statements improves the level of communication within an organization. Using data based statements, ensures that everyone recognizes the impact of things going on. You have heard me say this before, “the meaning of communication, is the response you get”. If you give direction and are not getting the result, then it is up to you to communicate in a different way and a good place to start is to get more specific.
Communication is not a goal. It is a process and there is no such thing as perfection. All any leader can do is to continue to hone your skills in this are, which means you must be willing to try some new things and see the impact in your organization. Share something you have never shared before. Force yourself to have a conversation where you only ask questions or approach a problem with specifics. Little steps…that is the answer.
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