Effective communication is often the number one weak spot for both individuals and the group as a whole. This is because communication within an organization is multi-dimensional.
Good communications should include elements of the logistics such as what to share, when to share, how to share it and with whom to share. However, each one of those elements has the potential for missing the target if not done well or with the right insight.
Poor group communications can take place by virtue of just one person. Our work is so integrated that when one cog doesn’t work well, the entire machine doesn’t. The biggest cog in the group is you, the manager.
Here are some simple strategies to improve communication and how well things work:
Hallways. The biggest opportunity for communication is when you catch someone. Everyone can be tasked with simple “catch them” communication.
Work-Decisions-Consistency. Often the best time to communicate is as a group, under the following conditions:
- When work must be done as a group, requiring more than 2 people to work through details and process
- When a decision needs to be made and other people are required to either contribute or support the decision
- When the information that needs to be shared must be timely and consistent. Sometimes, word of mouth doesn’t work very well – not timely or consistent.
Open door. One problem managers sometimes have is they want to be the information and communication conduit. That slows things down and is unempowering. Let everyone communicate up, down and sideways in the group. If you need to validate a decision, then make the decision and jointly decide which one of you communicates.
Emails. Decide how you want to use email to communicate as a group. An issue many groups have is that each person is left to their own devices on what they do with emails. Under those conditions, you never know what to expect when an email goes out. Figure out such things as:
- What type of things email is used for
- How frequently it should be checked
- Timing for responses
- What goes in the subject line
Do this and you take the guesswork out of email communications.
Two-way. Just because someone is talking doesn’t mean that real communication is taking place. Communication has to be heard and understood. Get in the practice within the group to ask questions and then quickly summarize what you think you understood. “So if I have this right, you will tell John to flip the switch at 6pm and I will send out the email the following hour. Is that your understanding?”
Style. You hear that we don’t all have the same “learning style”. It turns out that communication and learning are twins of the same mother. You must account for some people communicating more effectively (both giving and receiving) in different ways. Some people will comprehend things better if they read it, others by hearing and still others by charts or pictures. Not all communication requires style modification, but as the fearless leader, you will have some things that are critical for people to “get.” You will have to find more than one way to deliver a message to ensure full comprehension by most people.
There are entire classes and books written on the topic of effective communication, which means that much more could be said. However, these tips will help improve your group communication quickly and without much time spent to implement.
For more career tips and advice – FREE newsletter and eworkbook: http://CareerMakeoverToolKitShouldIstayorShouldIGo.com/ From Dorothy Tannahill-Moran – Your Career Change Agent from www.nextchapternewlife.com and www.mbahighway.com
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