When networking and speaking about the value of effective communication, I am always surprised to learn organizations do not provide on-going professional development and coaching linked to communication to their leadership team or their employees. Why? Is it a money issue? Is it a time issue? Or do they simply believe communication in their organization isn’t a problem?
The Single Biggest Problem With Communication
Is the Illusion It Has Taken Place
George Bernard Shaw
Communication is the key to a successful business. It is an integral part of all business interactions; Marketing, Sales and Leadership. Ineffective communication can be the cause of misunderstandings or misinterpretations. It can cost companies millions of dollars in lost sales, wasted time or even lawsuits.
Jim Collins, author of the book Good to Great, wondered why many companies never got to the next level. If they were good companies, why didn’t they ever achieve greatness? Through research, he discovered discipline was the key to greatness; disciplined people, thoughts and actions. Leaders must know how to hire the right people and sustain their focus on excellence.
Both hiring and leading are deeply based in effective communication. During the interview process it is important to have meaningful conversations with prospective employees. It’s about asking open-ended questions, being an active listener and letting the interview evolve rather than be driven by a script.
You Can Have Brilliant Ideas
But If You Can’t Get Them Across, Your Ideas Won’t Get You Anywhere
Great leaders, who are great orators, understand the power of effective communication. Many smart managers aren’t great communicators. They know what they want to say, but don’t focus on how they are delivering their message. You might say, they don’t seem to know ‘how to talk’ to others. They don’t understand their words are a small part of a message. If the vocal and non-verbal parts of your communication don’t send the same message as your words, people forget what was said and focus on how it was said.
A longitudinal study by Harvard found people may get an interview based on their technical skills and knowledge, but this is only about 15% of what an employer is looking for when hiring someone. What is more important? Their people skills! People skills are directly linked to how you communicate; they are crucial to not only getting a job, but keeping the job!
Breakdowns in communication impact a company’s ability to go from good to great or for a start-up to even get off the ground. With a 5-generation workforce, this can be a real problem unless everyone understands and respects the communication differences across the generations, gender or culture. With today’s diverse workforce, this presents yet another challenge, which requires a deeper understanding of how messages are sent and received.
Providing on-going training is the best way to ensure communication will not be the weak link in your organization. It isn’t about scripting. It’s about listening; knowing your audience and adjusting your communication style accordingly. A great product or service, marketing plan or mission statement, must be clearly communicated. Today’s multi-generational world needs information to be provided in many different formats. Why? Different generations have different communication preferences.
Companies worry about cyber-security, risk management and compliance. All of these issues revolve around how effectively they are communicated to customers. Problems often occur within a company because policies and procedures are poorly written, communication lacks transparency, or people aren’t listening to each other. Listening means learning about the other person’s perspective. You don’t have to agree with it, but you must understand how they think.
Communication, the Human Connection
Is the Key to Personal and Career Success
Making communication a top priority for all members of an organization is a key to going to the next level. Being a great communicator isn’t an innate skill; it must be honed and practiced. Great performers, athletes, and musicians all recognize the value of daily practice. They know without daily practice, they won’t excel. Great business leaders must do the same. If they want their organization to go from good to great, they must understand the power of effective communication and ensure all of their employees know: “It’s more than what you say; it’s how you say it.”