As a longtime fan of John Maxwell, the noted author on leadership, I have learned being a good communicator or telling your story is a journey, not a destination. He makes it quite clear that being an effective communicator demands having a defined, developed and continually refined communication style.
John is a master at pointing out that one of the greatest challenges speakers face is the fact that the average person hears thousands of messages every day. He says, “Communicators are vying for people’s attention in this environment. In a world where you can instantly access content on virtually any subject, how can you make your content and message stand out? How will you grab people’s attention and hold it long enough to make a positive impact on them?”
As leaders, we must be prepared, whether it will be for an operational challenge, an employee crisis or a customer issue. Being prepared and being an effective communicator to address what comes next is essential to navigating uncertain times and uncertain challenges.
Consider the communication needs of your organization to reach every employee at the same time, regardless of their physical location. With both internal and external communication (including stakeholders and sometimes on social media), it is crucial to craft messaging that is clear and has a consistent voice and message.
Sometimes one message is not enough. Sometimes we should be prepared to deliver our message more than once. Here are some steps you can take to create an environment that limits breakdowns in communication.
Consider an environment that encourages open communication.
Team members should feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, opinions, and concerns. You can lead by example by actively listening to team members and being approachable.
Clear communication starts with clear expectations.
You should provide clear instructions and guidelines to your team members, outlining goals and expectations. It is essential to make sure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.
Consider varying the communication channels.
Different team members may prefer different communication channels. Some may prefer face-to-face communication, while others may prefer email or instant messaging. You should be flexible and use a variety of channels to reach out to team members and keep them informed. Setting up effective lines of communication results in success for your team. You should always have a communication process defined and in place.
Active Listening is an essential part of effective communication.
When communicating with team members, you should practice active listening, paying attention to what others are saying, asking questions to clarify information, and responding appropriately. Active Listening shows team members that their opinions are valued and can help prevent misunderstandings.
Do not forget to follow up.
You should follow up regularly with team members to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This can be achieved through regular check-ins, team meetings, or one-on-one conversations. Regular follow-up helps you identify any potential issues before they may become major problems.
If there is a breakdown in communication, you should address the issue promptly.
It is essential to identify the root cause of the breakdown and work with team members to find a solution. Ignoring communication breakdowns often leads to bigger problems down the line.
In summary, when communicating, face your people thoughtfully and with empathy. You need to be aware of your timing, how you deliver the message, what you are saying, and how well you are observing and listening.
Effective communication is essential for leadership success. Promoting a culture that includes the characteristics I have discussed is key to avoiding communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, and conflict. By implementing these steps, you will build a culture of trust and collaboration, while creating a winning work environment.
Dennis Gershowitz is Principal with DG Associates