Recently I had the pleasure of facilitating a workshop aimed at enabling the group of leaders I was working with to communicate effectively during a period of substantial change. The organisation in question has recently acquired another business and is intending to merge their operations. As I shared with the group nothing is more important than the need to communicate; at any time but especially when they are rapidly changing or fighting a tough battle. I would go as far as to say when organisations face uncertain or challenging times it’s difficult to ‘over communicate’.
To win buy-in or support, to engage people in the process and ensure talented staff don’t walk out the door it is critical that they feel considered, informed and consulted. Crucially people must never feel misinformed. It’s one thing to be silent or better still to say ‘I don’t know or haven’t got the answer’, but quite another to misrepresent the truth. A certain way to lose the support and commitment of any team is to lie to them about what has, might or is going to happen.
As I share in my latest book The People Manager’s Toolkit, when organisations practice effective communication their managers:
- Provide regular and up-to-date information about objectives, strategies, priorities and progress
- Communicate the potential and actual consequences of decisions
- Proactively influence awareness and understanding
- Leverage the full potential of their team by listening to their Ideas and insights
- Provide honest and constructive feedback with respect and sensitivity.
While on the surface of it these priorities may not appear to be particularly complex or difficult to achieve, in reality many of the leaders we work with struggle to get communication right. Despite its importance on influencing the strength of the relationship they enjoy with their team many leaders fail to make communication a priority.
Irrespective of whether or not you are working through change or challenge, communication is a non-negotiable priority for every people manager. Unless communication is managed well, your ability to effectively apply any of the other tools in the people manager’s toolkit is diminished. The key to successful communication is first understanding the extent to which it matters and secondly taking a planned and deliberate approach. Below is a table from The People Manager’s Toolkit that can be used to plan your communication efforts. Each of the columns provides an example of the things you should consid
er when planning to communicate.
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The People Manager’s Toolkit is available to purchase HERE