It’s no surprise that communication is still the number one area for improvement in business (and any relationship) today. As most of us are aware, organizations are trying to do much more with much less, and as a result, effective communication is actually deteriorating. Ironically, management doesn’t seem to be aware that they are contributing to, if not creating, most of the communication breakdown. Because they are unaware, and causing a domino effect, it becomes very difficult to pinpoint the source of the problem.
Management thinks something external, or even internal but at the “lower ranks” is causing the problem, rather than focusing on themselves. One of the most effective things any of us can do is be aware of ourselves and focus on areas that we can control, rather than complaining and looking at things we can’t control.
Let’s start with trust. Trust is the foundation of effective communication. Consider the level of trust in your department (or home or social life). Trust is not only about morals and ethics; it’s also about consistency and reliability. One of the best ways to gauge the level of trust in your organization is to recognize what is going on during meetings. Is there a healthy amount of conversation, with both disagreement and ideas, positive and negative feedback, and healthy skepticism? Or is there a fake sense of “getting along”? Or perhaps mostly disagreement? Observation of what happens after meetings is also very useful. Are people following through and making things happen? Are they tracking results and sharing appropriate information throughout all levels of the organization? Are you seeing results?
Take a good look at quantity, quality and timeliness of communication within your organization. • Quantity: How much information should you share? And with whom? • Quality: Is there a sense of empathy and compassion? Do people adjust and adapt to communicate more effectively? • Timeliness: Is the information shared proactively, rather than reactively? Is timing carefully considered? Are people aligned on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis? This is crucial to strengthening your organization’s communication. Whether it’s formal or informal, it’s the quality of the communication that counts.
A daily huddle with your team asking: • How are things going? • What three priorities are you focused on today? • What, if any, help do you need?
By regularly and authentically connecting with your team, you will increase communication effectiveness two-fold. It may drive productivity over 50%! Consistency is a crucial element, so plan to be disciplined to carry it through. Schedule it out, make it a priority.
A weekly one-on-one meeting to check in and spend a little time with each team member (or your spouse, child, friend) goes a long way in building trust, and it too, increases productivity, creativity and happiness. Quality communication is key, so don’t just focus on the tasks that need to be accomplished. Spend time asking about the person and empower them to make it their meeting. If they don’t have much to share, that’s ok, but don’t let that be a reason to discontinue the meetings. Over time, with consistency, trust will grow and you will see a vast improvement in your relationships.
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