Maintaining good communication with co-workers is something that each individual employee must be consistently working on, with the support of informed and involved leaders, of course.
But creating an environment of effective communication is the responsibility of the leadership.
These tips will help YOU, the Courageous Leader, encourage strong communication throughout your organization.
1. Always identify your target audiences, and encourage others to do so too.
Targets are the various audiences who will be the recipients of the messages you create. They can be managers, field workers, customers, vendors, etc. A single executive message often has to be crafted in multiple ways to satisfy the different needs of the various audiences. Consider including audience-targeting as part of your training or enhancement programs. This will encourage employees and fellow leaders to think carefully about who their message is intended for and how to best communicate with that individual or group.
2. Define your key messages.
Key messages are defined as what you want recipients to go away thinking or doing differently. Generally, key messages stem from strategic goals and/or major company changes. Be sure to know what key messages you are trying to get across before communication begins, and if need be, summarize key messages as defined “takeaways” from the conversation. Knowing your key messages will save the time and frustration that comes with unstructured or goal-less communication.
3. Decide on the best channel/vehicle.
Selection of the best channel depends on the size of the audience, the nature of the info to be shared, and the vehicles to which the audience has historically responded. Many messages are easiest to convey in writing, most often email. However, sometimes a more personal or weighty issue may require a letter or note. And of course, nothing replaces face-to-face communication. Though at times gathering employees together for meetings may seem cumbersome, it may be necessary for certain instances. Rather than convenience, consider effectiveness when choosing a channel or vehicle for communication.
4. Determine the message sender.
For any given message, the sender should be seen as reliable, credible, and believable by the target audiences. They should be someone who can inspire action, and who has enough content knowledge to answer questions accurately. For example, the project manager may be most directly involved with the clients work – but for a big announcement or request, it may be more effective and appropriate for the owner of the company to convey the message.
5. Pinpoint the right time.
Always find the appropriate time to discuss issues with employees and customers. News – both “good” and “bad” – should be shared at a time when it will be well received. For instance, if an employee is feeling particularly down about a mistake made with a client, use your position to empower and re-ignite them, and save the constructive criticism for a time when it will be more helpful to them. When you model opportunistic thinking, you increase the likelihood of a self-sufficient “can do” spirit among employees.
6. Determine the feedback mechanism.
Good communication has a “feedback loop” to ensure that messages are received and acted upon. Be sure that systems are in place that guarantee valuable communication and feedback are not lost in the bogs of email/phone calls/meetings that take place. If needed, add more check-ins or updates along the way.
Achieving solid company-wide communication can seem a complicated and arduous task – but with the correct checks and balances, you can create the kind of environment for communication that is accountable, consistent, and staged for maximum growth and success!