Communication — Your Key to Reaching Goals
Communication is commonly the toughest challenge but the main change driver for companies. Previously, we considered several examples of how poor communication may affect the workflow and success of any company when implementing large-scale changes. This is why we are going to share top recommendations and best practices proven by time and experience.
Let’s take the communication within your company to a new level of quality!
Four Components of Effective Communication:
- The message sent should be concise, detailed and clear for the receiver. The focused approach always works like an Occam’s razor (= “entities should not be multiplied without necessity”), leaving only the gist.
- The receiver of this message should attentively read or listen to it, clarify what’s still unclear whilst making sure that they trust the author of this message.
- The method of transmitting the message should be suitable for the current situation and preferences of both the sender and the receiver.
- The contents of this message should be useful and timely for everyone who takes part in communication. It has to answer their questions and help resolve burning issues.
This formula may seem simple, but when implementing it in practice, many employees face difficulties of thinking over what is better and how to write and say. The cause for this is the fact that we rarely put extra effort into forming our messages.
The good news is that the mastery comes with practice. Sooner or later you’ll get accustomed to creating only accurate and well-directed messages.
After you know the basics, let’s focus on actionable tips that will increase your communication greatly.
1. Cover the Full Topic of the Change
Focus on the mission and vision, common goals and progress. Forget about your own preferences and pay attention to things that contribute to the business first of all.
In the context of managing changes, you should cover everything connected to the change. Be honest and impersonal. Leave biases behind and use only facts when talking to others.
Explain the causes of changes to people. Help them understand why the company needs them. Employees should see the causes, the context, the need, and the purpose.
2. Be Specific and Concise
To make the process of change and communication smooth, don’t urge people to look for the truth themselves. They can come to the wrong conclusion, which threatens to disrupt plans. Tell them everything they need for high performance:
- What is the change itself?
- Whom will it affect?
- Who will be responsible if something goes wrong?
- Are there risks for employees or customers?
- When and where will this change happen?
- Why is the change important for the company and its customers?
Also, use numbers and dates to add accuracy to your words.
3. Repeat Key Messages
Announcing the plan for changes is not enough. You should repeat key messages about the upcoming changes for all the teams to be focused. What’s more, repeating ideas increase their chances to get heard and understood. We believe that after multiple repeatings, employees will have a single answer to the question: “What are we going to do next?”.
Recall Apple’s advertisement with their “Think different”. It was just a phrase in 1997, still, if you hear it today, the thirst thing that comes to mind is Apple’s logo.
4. Use the “What’s In It for Me?” Method
Make the change a personal choice for each participant. Demonstrate to the colleagues how they will benefit from the innovation. People are afraid of changes, as they usually anticipate the most pessimistic outcomes. So, before they draw negative conclusions on changes, convey the advantages of the upcoming actions to everyone.
5. Try Different Channels
To better understand your colleagues and the audience, communicate frequently and through different channels. Write, speak, use collaborative tools and messengers, conduct webinars, Q&A events, training pieces, send newsletters, set one-to-one conversations, and so on.
Let your colleagues be embraced by the change and the full information about it.
This works like advertising. If you hear about a product from every radio in your city, you’ll likely purchase it later.
6. Don’t Be in a Hurry
As the change itself, high-quality communication can’t be built overnight. Give others time to respond, ask questions etc. Don’t urge them to reply in 5–10 minutes because every well-thought decision requires time. Still, set realistic deadlines for your colleagues.
Don’t answer people’s questions if you are not sure what the answer is. Provide only well-thought expert answers. Otherwise, you will lose trust and reputation. It’s better to take your time and prepare an extensive report than to say something right away.
7. Make Communication Engaging
Engage people in negotiations and discussions, and forget about one-way presentations. Ask questions, fish for feedback, conduct opinion polls or focus groups. This will help you involve everyone in the change process and create commitment. People will feel part of the innovation
Provide networking opportunities. Let people communicate with each other, encourage them to be proactive, and start a conversation without directions from above.
8. Listen and Hear Each Other
Create more opportunities for two-way communication. Enhance your listening skills. Employees can offer great innovative ideas, just look at Toyota’s example!
Focus on thoughtfulness, and better listen and prepare answers to employees’ questions rather than talk about nothing just to make an impression of a motivational speaker. Use argumentation for every thought.
9. Prepare for Resistance
Although you can find the guide for working with resistance in our previous article, we’ll briefly cover this point here. Communicating with empathy means being prepared for any emotions of your interlocutors.
When facing substantial changes people experience a whole range of feelings and emotions: denial, grief, bargaining, and even depression. Not always will their unwillingness to do something mean unprofessionalism and a reason for dismissal. Talk to employees who find it difficult to adapt to changes. Give them another chance, describe the benefits and bright outcomes, celebrate small wins and always repeat the final goal.
10. Assess the Effectiveness of Communication
You will never know the progress of improving your communication unless you use correct assessment tools for that. Find a way to discover whether your colleagues perceive the information correctly. Make sure they don’t misinterpret the message.
Opinion polls work well in this case. A two-minutes survey will show the weak points of the communication strategy. Based on the results, you can make corrections to the message, channels, or the communication style in general.