You’ve been frustrated with poor communication strength. If you’ve taken a road trip in the United States lately you know how unpredictable cell phone service can be in this country. (Is cell phone reception as unpredictable in the country where you live?)
In this country I hope to see a time when cell phone strength is consistent everywhere but we’re not near there yet. In downtown Austin, Texas where I am right now I have two bars out of four—in a major tech hub. In some places on the US Interstate, you get the maddening “no service” message—you’re out of luck if you want to make a call. Hiking in the mountains of New Mexico you can at times get four bars—go figure.
Poor Signal Strength in Organizations
In organizations we have the same problem of spotty communications. It lowers productivity and maximizes frustrations. Poor organizational communication is at the root of low productivity and high turnover. We hear people at the vice president level in organizations confess, “I just don’t know what is going on here.”
There are many reasons for poor signal strength in organizations.
1. Senior Leadership Really Doesn’t Know What’s Going On. Each member of the C-suite was hired to fill a particular role from marketing to IT. They are experienced, well-educated and often brilliant professionals. Yet they are so engaged in what they’re doing, they see little else. Organization wide, they may not have a broad view of the organization they’re in charge of running.
2. Inconsistent Communications—a Different Story Every Day. Nothing is more detrimental to communication signal strength than multiple organizational messages. The consistent message of the organization comes from the top and spreads to every part of the organization. This message must be consistently communicated through every organizational medium. There will be “back channel” versions of what’s going on, and the rumor mill can never be rooted out. But there must be a credible, believable, and true leadership interpretation of what’s happening—both the opportunities and the threats. This message will maintain and sustain the organization.
3. Ineffective Internal Communications. Some organizations use monthly all hands rally type meetings as a primary organization medium. These meetings can very useful for communicating recent victories to celebrate as well as creating a bonding experience. But they get old and frayed like overused, scuffed shoes if there isn’t a foundation of what’s really going on in terms of profit and loss, market share, and product development.
Tools to Maintain a Strong Communication Signal Strength
Members of leadership teams in organizations commonly believes they are communicating well to the organization—after all, individual leaders have reputation for being great communicators. But an effective organization-wide communication that informs and motivates rarely happens without careful planning and putting mechanisms in place to keep the message strong.
Organizational communication strategy is critical to high performing organizations—it’s worth investing the time and the money. It’s not a rash expenditure nor can it be episodic. It must be effective and constant.
Here are some basic tools for communication strength:
1. Convocation: Our Values, Objectives, and What’s In It For Me? We communicate what we find important—what we value. But what we value differs wildly from person to person. We need to get together and clarify.
2. Leverage Technology for Internal Communication. Whether you use an Intranet, SharePoint, Slack channels or other technology, harness that to get key messages out and in front of people in a way that they literally “stumble across.” Don’t leave the message or the distribution to chance.
3. Crowd Sourcing Communications—Creating a Strategy Through the 360-degree Assessment. Many know what few will say. At this point in time, you can learn the wisdom of the crowd best from the 360-degree assessment. You will get more frank, honest, and accurate information on individuals and teams through the 360 than from any other approach. Are people confused about strategy? Direction? Performance management? Roll that data up to understand the communication gaps, conflicting messages and confusion in the organization. Let that inform your internal communication strategy.
4. What Do We Need from Each Other? Building Alignment. The most wasted ineffective communication comes from talking past one another. There are scores of agendas in the same leadership team. Everyone is working toward personal objectives that may cancel each other out. Only by coming together in regular facilitated sessions can a team align themselves for effective action.
Increasing communication strength builds organizational strength, increases productivity, and keeps people on board when you need them the most. Increasing communication strength is as important as acquiring and maintaining any piece of equipment from networks to tablets. It helps stem an endless stream of hiring with little results. With great communication strength, employees know the culture they’re fitting into, the skills they need, and their role in the organization. Let’s increase signal strength.
Question; If you live outside the US, do you have the same experience as we do with cell phone service varying, depending on where you are? Could you tell me your experience, www.delta-associates.com? I’d so appreciate knowing what your experience is. I would love to know the experience of our readers in Europe, Asia and Australia.