Implementing Effective Internal Communication
What are Top Maryland Businesses Doing Differently?
Communication is both the key to success and the downfall of most relationships—in the workplace, in your marriage, in friendships and with family. It is very much a pre-requisite for any healthy organization but it requires constant work and attention to be truly successful. Here are a few concepts that healthy organizations have mastered that don’t require an entire organizational overhaul to implement:
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Speak at the right level for your audience.
Far too often, we believe overloading the recipient with information shows value and intellect but if the person on the receiving end does not have an understanding of the content to begin with, they block out those nitty-gritty details and are left with just the opposite perception of the one “throwing-up” information on them. The person perceived as a valuable asset is not the one that can overload their audience, but the one that can create a clear, comprehendible message to the recipient and create action or buy-in as a result. If we don’t present information in a way that is meaningful to the other person, the phrase, “we are just talking to ourselves” rings true.
Spend less time memorizing the details and more time understanding your audience’s point of view. Chances are, if you tend to overfill the glass on a topic, you know the content better than you give yourself credit for anyway. Before you present information, consider who you are talking to and what is important to them. Then actively work to present a higher level overview tied directly to what the audience cares about and avoid the urge to talk about how it is relevant or impactful to you. Allow your audience to guide where the conversation goes by probing for details rather than diving right in.
When we are passionate about something, we tend to speed up our speech and sprint to the end leaving our audience trailing behind and working hard to keep up rather than taking in the content.
Sit back, relax your body and slow down your speech to the point where it feels almost awkward to you. Although it may feel unnatural, the recipient does not recognize it as slowed speech, instead they see you as a comfortable, confident presenter. Pause often to allow for interaction from the audience. Engagement breeds understanding and buy-in.
Segment the content to the same lens.
We often sit in meetings or entertain conversations where each person is coming at the topic from a different lens. One person may be presenting emotional view points, another may be presenting fact while another person presents the things that could go wrong. When this is the case, none of the people in the room are effectively working through the topic, they are locked in to their own lens and lost in their own perspectives.
Give each lens its due time. Break a conversation into different segments.
- First, allow everyone in the room to unload their emotional perspective on the topic. Getting this out of the way first and classifying it as such allows you to move on to true problem solving.
- Once you isolate the emotions, move on to facts surrounding the topic and challenge each other to present only facts. At this point, most people realize their initial perspective may not have been grounded in anything concrete.
- Next, ask for the obstacles to overcome so you can ensure they are out in the open. Then challenge the group to come up with ideas to overcome the obstacles.
- Lastly, and potentially most importantly for buy-in, ask for the benefits surrounding the solution. A team can rally around an idea when they spend time collectively outlining the potential benefits of the solution and projecting themselves into the positive end state.You’ll be amazed at the progress you can make when you have everyone speaking to the same perspective.
This is the most apparent but also the most overlooked. When we don’t over communicate, the execution of a great idea or initiative can be lost because it didn’t reach the right people. Even if it was communicated, it may not have been received. How often do you hear, “Well, I copied you on the email” as a rebuttal for someone claiming they weren’t informed of a change or decision?
Focus on the cascading message associated with every decision. Who needs to know about this, who will tell them, how will we tell them so they understand (probably not in a mass email) and when will we do it? Once you outline those next steps, ensure you establish a frequency in which you will disseminate the information and a method for making sure it was done and done effectively.
Spend time on the journey.
We often forget all of the knowledge we gained as we worked through a problem and assume everyone else around us now holds that knowledge despite not having been a part of the process. Then we are let down or lose steam when the group does not share in our excitement or energy surrounding the end result.
When you arrive at an outcome and look for buy-in from others, unless the group is willing to give you blind faith, you need to bring the entire group through the journey it took to get there. That does not mean you need to drag people through the hours, days or months that you’ve spent on something, but it is important to hit the high notes and transfer your knowledge to them. Start with the current state, outline the challenges faced in the as-is situation and then outline the projected end state along with its benefits. This ensures your audience knows what you now know and the revelation is appreciated, not lost.
Looking for great tools to help you implement these concepts? Here are some of our favorites:
Advance Business Systems helps organizations focus on their core mission by providing technology that can increase efficiency and effectiveness and services that eliminate the distractions that many organizations face.
The right resources and a plan are critical to an organization achieving and exceeding their goals. Advance provides services such as IT planning and support that will take IT off your plate, keep you from worrying about data security and position your business for the future.
Having the right business technology solutions in place, such as multifunctional copiers, interactive white boards and document management software, can greatly improve the flow of information through an organization.