Research indicates that managers spend somewhere between 50 and 80 percent of their total time communicating in one way or the other. Without effective communication there can be little or no performance management, innovation, understanding of clients or coordination of effort, and without effective communication it is difficult to manage the expectations of those who are in a position to make decisions about your fate.
Effective organizational communication, regardless of the form it takes, requires three things.
First, all players must have the appropriate skills and understanding to communicate well. Communication is not a simple process, and many people simply do not have the required depth of understanding of communication issues.
Second, good organizational communication requires a climate or culture that supports effective communication. More specifically, this climate involves trust, openness, reinforcement of good communication practices and shared responsibility for making communication effective.
Third, effective communication requires attention. It doesn’t just happen, but develops as a result of an intentional effort on the part of management and staff. Too often, communication, whether it is good or bad, is taken for granted.
How do you get started? Follow these tips:
- Actively solicit feedback about your own communication and communication within the organization. Ask staff questions like:
- When we talk, are you generally clear about what I am saying?
- Do you think we communicate well around here?
- Have you got any ideas about how we could communicate better?
Consider including these questions (or similar ones) in your performance management process or staff meetings.
- Assess your own communication knowledge and understanding.
- Working with your staff, define how you should communicate in the organization. Develop consensus regarding:
- How disagreements should be handled.
- How horizontal communication should work (staff to staff).
- How vertical communication should work (manager to staff, staff to manager).
- What information should be available and when.
Once consensus is reached, support the achievement of these goals through positive reinforcement and coaching.
Source: Robert Bacal is CEO of Bacal & Associates and Work911.com. Bacal & Associates is a “no-frills” training, consulting and keynote speaker company offering services related to performance management and appraisal, dealing with difficult customers, presenting to difficult groups and other communication and team related issues. Work911 is the website devoted to topics on leadership, management, interpersonal communication and conflict.