By Jon Burton
Making yourself heard
We live in a world overloaded with information, and this is just one of the spin-offs of the great explosion called Information Technology.
And yet, for all the information that we have to hand, doesn’t it seem sometimes that getting what you want or simply getting your message over to others is more challenging now than ever?
The information ‘big bang’ has burst onto the business scene and given us so many business opportunities, but we would do well to remember that it comes to us at a cost – and that cost is information-overload.
In fact, one of the phrases that always brings a wry smile to the knowing faces of delegates on our High Impact Communication courses is ‘analysis-paralysis’.
That’s the simple effect of information-overload!
So, the challenge for every business communication professional today is straightforward: “How can I deliver my message with the necessary high impact that will get others to sit up and take notice?”
We now know that employees of organisations with an established communication strategy are five times more likely to be high performers and achievers, and that comes from recent research by PMI’s Pulse of the Profession report, entitled: ‘The Essential Role of Communications’.
Articulating the big-picture to your workforce is no longer just a good idea. The regular communication of ideas, along with reminders about your company’s values and goals, is now a vital part of building in the workforce a true sense of shared belonging.
Not only does this ensure that staff are as engaged and on-board as we can possibly make them, but that increased engagement leads to greater productivity and acts as a real boost to morale.
Have a real focus on what you want to achieve, and be clear about where you are going. Most importantly, communicate your intentions to others.
But that can only begin when you have a sound communication strategy. Communication is a skill, but those who lack the skill often lack the will.
Train your people to be more effective communicators, and to know how communication works. Make sure they understand why good communication has to flow up and down through the organisation.
If your managers are only in the habit of communicating good news, or worse still, if they impede or block anything but good news being fed back up to them, they will not have the necessary full picture of what is really going on in their department or team.
Communication is the responsibility of everyone in the organisation. The onus should not lie solely with senior executives. However, as organisational culture is led from the top, they set the example for more of their management team to follow, and they have a responsibility to ensure that good communication is not just talked about, but acted upon.
It’s worth remembering that good communication, coupled with a sound reward system, is the life-blood of a forward-thinking workforce.
That managers are the only people paid to think is patently not true. Good ideas can come from anywhere, and most often those who know best how a system can be improved are those using that system.
But beware – the company that fails to reward its staff for their ideas will see the well of creative thought dry up very quickly.
Encourage your people to think with an adequate reward scheme and the most inventive ones will always come forward with their ideas.
Cash rewards are good, where cost-saving ideas prove fruitful, but always acknowledge contribution and replenish the well by keeping people informed – whether their idea is to be adopted or not.
So, to sum up, here are a few easily implemented steps to help your organisation be more skilful in its communication:
1) Have a clear strategy
Develop a simple yet effective strategy that ensures communication flows down and is encouraged to flow back up again.
2) Implement it
If an initiative is going to fail, then it invariably fails at the implementation stage, so make sure those essential communication skills are in place if you want results.
3) Communicate intelligently
Even the best ideas may seem strange at first, so encourage managers to think more openly and communicate more strategically.
4) Make it count
Be mindful of quality as well as sufficiency, if your message is to have true meaning for its recipients.
5) Monitor progress
Recalcitrant managers are only encouraged by weak and ineffectual monitoring systems, so leadership training is usually the place to start. But consider also the sanctions and consequences for those who fail in the delivery of your communications policy.
6) Coach and mentor
Good coaching is the modern way, but remember that the ability to coach is not an innate quality, but rather a skill that needs to be learnt and practiced.
7) Understand your audience
Managers at every level should ask themselves: “What does my audience know, what do they need to know, and how can I best put it across to them?” Sound communication must always be the default.
8) Deliver with high impact
Encourage training in high impact communication to ensure that your managers are skilled at delivering their message with maximum impact. That’s just
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