"Many of the problems that occur in an organization are the direct result of people failing to communicate or communicating ineffectively" according to The SANS Technology Institute.
Is your style of communicating causing problems?
First, communication is a very broad term. As a leader you are involved in many kinds of communication each day – emails, texts, meetings, telephone calls, conversations in the hall, reports, and presentations.
Even your body language is a form of communication.
Each time you communicating think about two things:
What message do you want to get across?
What changes do you want to occur as a result of the message?
I have realized through coaching leaders in communication, that they often think about the first item. They are usually clear about the message they want to get across, but they don’t go any further than that. They expect people to know what to do with the information.
Because people don’t have the same background and context as you do, or they are too busy, they might not know what you want them to do as a result of the communication. The most common reaction is therefore to ignore the message and go back to work.
Big problem – people aren’t doing anything with the information you shared. This is your fault. You have to make it clear on what people are expected to do because of the communication.
Worse problem – they could do something you don’t want them to do! This has implications in wasted resources, friction between staff, plus you have to work with them to fix the problem. Again, this is your fault – if you aren’t getting the message across correctly, it is your issue.
Clarity is the key. Be clear on the next steps you want people to take. Is it change how they respond to clients? Is it update the computer system? Is it shred the meeting notes? Don’t leave people guessing. Tell them what you want them to do. Repeat the message.
Be clear on what you want changes you want people to make after they've communicated with you and you will solve many problems.
Finally, you need to check to make sure people did what you wanted them to do. This is the final step in communicating.
Communication is not easy, but doing it poorly causes many problems.
If you want more help in communications, contact me at Valerie.MacLeod@HainesCentre.com
You can also read: The Lost Art of Listening, or What I Learned About Communication from a Photography Course.
Photograph by Valerie MacLeod