Do you see communication issues in your company that are potentially impacting the business? Perhaps between sales and marketing, or product and engineering? Getting everyone to align in support of the company and not their personal or departmental needs is how you build sustainable growth. But reminding everyone they are on the same team is not always easy, especially if you’ve set up incentives that reward the wrong behaviors. So how can you ensure you create effective inter-communication in your organization?
Per the Society of Human Resources Management, “Communication is a vital management component to any organization. Whether the purpose is to update employees on new policies, to prepare for a weather disaster, to ensure safety throughout the organization or to listen to the attitudes of employees, effective communication is an integral issue in effective management. To be successful, organizations should have comprehensive policies and strategies for communicating with their constituencies, employees and stakeholders as well as with the community at large.”
If you don’t think there’s a downside to poor communication, a recent study pegs internal costs at $37 billion annually due to employee misunderstandings, while another found $62.4 million in lost productivity every year due to internal barriers. On the bright side, companies with strong leadership communication had 47% higher returns over a five year period.
While many companies understand the importance of communication and collaboration, 75% of employers rate it as important, few are doing anything about it. And for many companies, the challenges are increasing. Remote working is increasing. According to IWG, 70% of office workers globally work from home at least one day a week. Additionally, the accessibility of cloud tools has created a proliferation of different systems inside of an organization. While this may increase individual or departmental productivity, it can limit communication effectiveness.
There are specific steps you can take to improve communications within your organization, and it starts with you. The first step is look at your executive team and how you are communicating. Your behavior sets the tone and will be modeled by employees. Are you aware of your personal communication style? If so, how does it change during stressful situations? Self awareness is the first key to good communication.
Once you understand your personal style and that of the executive team, create a process that works for the company culture. Consider what software tools you have in place across departments. Where can you consolidate? Reach out to department heads to determine why they selected the tools they did and get alignment on which tools are necessary moving forward. For example, you could use Slack for chat, google suite for shared documents, trello for project management, etc…. There are a variety of excellent tools, select the ones that work for your purposes.
The next element is training. Everyone can benefit from communication training. This is a great time to solicit feedback and suggestions from employees. The goal is to create an environment of trust and transparency. When communicating with the company be honest and direct. Show them the respect they deserve and you’ll see people become more comfortable in being open and honest with others. Another proven method of improving communications is frequent breaks during the day and social activities outside of work hours. Any opportunity for everyone to connect informally will build stronger relationships.
It’s important to remember that communications boils down to people and relationships. By encouraging a culture of curiosity, you are giving everyone permission to ask questions and be heard. You can also consider an open door policy for interaction with executives. Be it anytime, which is optimal but not always realistic, or during scheduled office hours. This can be set up daily, weekly, or whatever works for you. The goal is to foster more openness for employees to approach leadership about any topic they want to discuss without feeling like a burden.
As you consider how to improve your inter-communications, consider some of the characteristics of successful teams per HBR:
- Everyone on the team talks and listens equally. This includes keeping messages short and sweet.
- During a meeting, team members face one another and communicate energetically.
- Team members connect with everyone else on the team, not just the boss.
- Team members carry on side conversations or backchannel conversations with one another.
- Team members break periodically to explore outside of the team and bring information back.
To learn more about creating effective inter-communications and how Sheer Velocity can help, send us a note. We work with Hogan Assessments and can supplement your current efforts as well as identify the characteristics of high performing communicators for open executive roles.