While most leaders understand the pitfalls of poor financial management or the dangers of lax people management, many do not take into account the risks associated with failing to manage the ways in which information and ideas flow in and out of the organization.
Problems when it comes to communication can arise from many different factors, but it is key for every organization to evaluate its efforts and consider the kind of culture they want to create. An effective flow of information includes openness, promoting dialogue over monologue, engaging staff, and creating a plan that aligns communication efforts with organizational strategy.
Another important point is to note that oftentimes what we believe are communication problems are actually related to organizational processes and priorities that are unclear or ambiguous leaving room for what could be incorrect interpretation. Ensuring roles and responsibilities are clear, intentionally designing business and organizational processes, and being clear on decision-making steps can go a long way in preventing what ends up looking like communication mishaps, but actually relates to conducting business in a consistent and clear manner.
What can you do to help prevent some of these issues?
- Conduct a review of your communication problems to understand their true nature.
- Be clear and concise, don’t use unnecessary words when crafting messages.
- Provide company-wide (yes, top to bottom) active listening training.
- Encourage two-way feedback, and constructive criticism.
- Tackle issues one at a time – information overload can prevent us from effective actions.
If you have not done so yet, you can work on creating a Communications Strategy Plan to help you frame the process and create a collaborative approach at improving messaging both internally and externally. These problems don’t go away on their own, but they can be tackled one step at a time.