They say that the only sure thing about communication is that we tend to get it wrong.
If communication between two family members is a challenge, how much harder is communication at work? Have you ever experienced a team "fail" like this?
- After meetings, people don't seem to know what was said or what's coming next. It's like the meeting never occurred.
- After training on a new procedure, only one person recalls the protocol.
- Following a brainstorming session, everyone assumes someone else is covering the "next step." The ball is dropped, resulting in blame, disillusionment, and embarrassment.
Make Your Messages Stick
Everyone knows communication is critical to success.
To run a thriving business, employees, managers, and CEOs need to communicate clearly and effectively. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of short circuits in this process, which can result in angry employees, difficult HR situations, and lost profit.
What can you do to improve team communication? Here are a few suggestions from some of today's best leaders:
1. Kick Silo Doors Open
Many teams work well together but fail to communicate with the larger organization.
Communication silos occur when people in different departments don't collaborate or connect to the bigger company vision. Enon Landenberg, founder and CEO of tech consulting company sFBI, says this is common:
"It's very possible for departments to focus too much on their own work and miss out on the big ideas that only come from collaboration," Landenberg said. "Egos [can prevent] honest discussions about the quality of work, necessary improvements and fresh ideas."
To avoid this problem, send weekly briefings to the entire company and regularly schedule time for divisions or leaders to connect on projects, questions, or suggestions.
2. Limit Email Communication
When employees receive too many emails, they will start forgetting and ignoring the information they receive.
According to Jeff Corbin, founder and CEO of APPrise Mobile, urgent messages should always be relayed by phone or in person. And when it comes to email conversations, Corbin says this:
"[I follow] the three-email rule: After three messages, we talk."
Simplify not only the amount of email but the language you use. When technical jargon abounds, you increase the chance for errors because people can't understand you!
3. Squash the Gossip
News travels quickly, especially if it's bad.
Some rumors are just silly, but many contain an exaggerated seed of truth. Managers should address issues head-on rather than mopping up messes later. Even if you can't share all the details, giving people a snapshot of the situation will build confidence and quiet dissension.
4. Lead Engaging Meetings
When people fail to listen, their minds are probably elsewhere.
The burden of communication is yours, so make meetings concise and engaging. Share the purpose of a meeting immediately, and conclude with assignments and action steps. Train managers to share only the most essential information and to use stories to illustrate a point. (e.g. "Yesterday, I got a phone call from our largest shareholder, and guess what they said?")
Megachurch pastor Craig Groeschel says this:
"Work to keep your meetings small and your communication large. Too many [leaders] make the mistake of including too many people in too many meetings. The purpose of the meeting determines its size and . . . [it is important to] keep the discussion moving. Maintain a sense of polite urgency, pushing hard enough to keep the meeting moving but not so hard that discussion and decision-making is rushed."
Eliminating miscommunication can head off a whole host of problems, so be intentional and make improvements each day!