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John Maxwell Team Certified Member

Priscilla Archangel is a John Maxwell Team Certified Coach, Teacher and Speaker.

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    What’s Your Communication Goal?

    As leaders we’re constantly communicating to our stakeholders with strategic intent. The question is whether our communication plan is effective or not. This may sound simple, but amazingly, many leaders miss excellent opportunities to communicate with employees in ways that develop them by enhancing their understanding of business priorities and engaging them in driving sustained business outcomes. When you’re communicating with others it’s important to think about your goal to ensure your methodology is properly aligned.

     

    Here’s A Case to Consider

    It’s the beginning of the 4th quarter of your fiscal year. Your company’s revenues are not meeting projections. Sales forecasts in your industry show a year over year decline, and the cost of raw materials is going up. As CEO, you and your CFO meet with the leadership team and decide that spending must be slashed for the remainder of the year, and the following year’s budget needs to be reduced by 10%. Because this is a critical issue, you want the organization to make this their first priority. You ask the leaders to identify spending and budget reductions and submit updates to the finance team within a week.

    Compliance – A common approach to communicating this all too frequent business ritual is to provide information and expect compliance. You give the team direction on what they need to do, and they submit the desired response. While they know the company is in a tight position financially, this is a transactional process. There’s no buy-in to the decisions. Leaders will continue to justify expenditures and try to retain funding for otherwise not-so-important projects. You may achieve your goal, but with no lasting impact.

    Comprehension – A better approach is to explain the business financials to the organization, helping them to understand the cost drivers, industry trends and allocation of resources. You and your leadership review your business strategy and prioritize certain initiatives while putting others on hold. You share highlights of these deliberations as a means of providing insight into how you arrived at your conclusions and the plans that are being put into place. Managers and employees are now better equipped to make thoughtful decisions about where to identify spending and budget reductions.

    Change – The best communication approach is one that drives change in the organization. There are underlying reasons for the financial condition of the company, both internal and external. More than an end-of-year exercise, this is an opportunity for a strategic review of the operating model, research and development investment, pricing strategy and other business drivers. Instead of operating as a cost center, employees should understand how their work impacts the bottom line and regularly engage in reviews to improve effectiveness. In this way, employees have ownership in influencing the desired business outcomes.

    The Flow
    Good communication isn’t a series of distinct events. It’s an ongoing flow of interactions where leaders assess and understand the needs of others and continuously provide inputs to support those needs. Leaders who look at employees and think, “they don’t need to know this,” “I don’t have time to explain it,” or “I don’t know how to help them understand the leadership decision” will have short-sighted results. Employees can’t drive better results because they don’t understand the issues.

    Communication should be viewed as a developmental opportunity to help employees understand the broader context of their work and enable them to make better decisions. This interaction serves as a basis for innovation and collaboration.

    When driving major organizational changes, communication should be like the dripping of a faucet; frequent, consistent and fluid. Employees who frequently hear from their leaders will feel more connected and aware of initiatives and decisions. Employees who consistently hear from their leaders learn to trust the process and the quality of information provided. And employees who fluidly hear from their leaders are more likely to engage in spontaneous interaction on tough but important questions around business decisions. This enhances employee engagement and empowers them to be more effective in their roles.

    How are you communicating with your team?

    Copyright 2018 Priscilla Archangel
    Photo credit: turk_stock_photographer

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