Your Clear Next Step knows communication is hard, and we struggle alongside the masses to use it effectively. Communication within an organization can be very complex, as it has to take place on various levels. Communication occurs between individuals and within teams. It - hopefully - flows to and from the top executives and entry level or individual contributors. Effective communication means different things depending on your audience, because it’s not about you.
And effective communication is critical. Did you know that productivity and employee morale is linked to effective communication? Effective communication can increase productivity by 25%, and engaged employees are 17% more productive than those that aren’t. Communication is so much more than directing words at another person. But without effective communication, that’s about all we do.
Communication is such a complex interaction and so integral to the success of any relationship, team, project, or organization. It’s no longer considered a “soft skill” - being an effective communicator is actually one of the best attributes, professional or otherwise. And yet, we struggle with it consistently. Whether it’s a lack of experience, understanding, care, or simply human error - we all still make mistakes - our communication skills take a hit every single day.
Mary Jo has noticed a rise in frustration as her organization grows. She’s told herself it’s a fact of how things are - the more people you pack into a rowboat, the better the chance of sinking or tipping over. Lately, Mary Jo has been hoping for something better. She’s been wondering about the best knots to use with tethers, and where life preservers may be thrown from.
So what can we do to improve?
First, you have to find the pain points. It’s unlikely that there’s an issue with all communication from everyone about everything. So, where exactly does the problem exist? Maybe it’s a lack of follow ups or “closing the loop”, company-wide messages are long-winded and tiring to read, we need to be more careful about the tone of our messages, or maybe there’s too much or too little communication. It may be useful to send out a survey or hold a forum to shed some light.
Then, once you know what these challenges are, the next step is to address them! Implement a step into the internal communication process to always follow up or close the loop - a simple “Got it!” can help do this. Practice concision and getting right to the point. Learn about how the use of punctuation, or the placement of certain words in a sentence, affects tone. Work to find a balance between overloading and oversimplifying. All of this will take hard work and practice.
Mary Jo’s organization identified their issue as too little communication. There was an influx of so many people, yet unclear direction for who was doing what. All of the current employees continued on in their roles, and assumed the new employees would pick up tasks or ask for help. Instead, they found that tasks weren’t getting done, and the new employees were unengaged. Executives began surveying current employees for tasks to hand over to their new counterparts, and they began training and collaborating to build the new roles.
Sometimes it helps to have an outside source’s perspective, especially from experts and trained professionals. They likely have tips and tools for making the learning process and the actual communication easier. Look into a solution that works well for you and your organization. Your Clear Next Step has communication training for individuals, teams, and organizations, as well as coaching available for a more personalized touch.
The bottom line is we all know that communication is hard, and its effectiveness is critical, so we can all stand to learn and improve.
What communication challenges do you face as an individual, or your organization as a whole? What have you found useful in improving your communication effectiveness?