Powerful, clear, and engaged communication is essential to effectively connecting with an audience and achieving your intended objectives. Corporate communications, which often focuses on internal and external exchange of information, is critical to a company’s overall success. These communications often serve as the primary means of engaging with employees, vendors, and the media. From the BP Macondo Oil Spill to the US Covid-19 health crisis, the way organizations communicate during difficult times is the standard by which they are measured. But how can you ensure that your communicated information is pointed, clear, and well-received? In honor of Effective Communications Month, we’ve outlined 3 key principles to successful and effective communication:
- Set Clear Goals– Outline the intent behind the message and be clear about what you want out of your communication. Unstructured communication that isn’t well-thought-out and doesn’t contain a defined goal is dangerous and can cause confusion. In business, corporate communications should clearly layout the intent and provide concrete information for upcoming steps.
- Understand the Audience– People are diverse, so your approach to communication should be as well. Understand the target demographic, what makes them unique, and ensure to speak to the group accordingly. Effective communication strategies require you to tailor the way you communicate based on your target audience.
- Reinforce the Messaging– Follow-up and reinforcement is key. Reiteration isn’t only a proven learning method, but is also a cornerstone by which humans process all types of information. Business communications regarding critical changes can’t be shared just once, but, instead, should have a well-planned out engagement strategy involved.
Our world is more interconnected than ever before. Workplaces are more diverse and remote teams are scattered around the world. All of these factors have converged to make cross-cultural communications a vital part of organizational success. Effective communication within organizations is critical in evaluating people, technology, and change to further improve collaboration and performance efforts. Check out our interview with Jamie Belinne, Assistant Dean for C.T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, as she shares her experience with successful communication:
Why do leaders need to be effective communicators?
There is a tremendous amount of research showing that the best leaders are also the best listeners. Leading is not about being the smartest person in the room or imposing your will on others. It’s about inspiring others to bring their best ideas and best work to the organization. This requires excellent listening, facilitation, presentation and sometimes even mediation skills. No individual can make a company successful, but a leader with strong communication skills can encourage and inspire everyone to work together towards making the company succeed.
How do businesses/organizations strategically approach communication, and what are the common errors they face with their approach?
Leaders are often so focused on meeting certain targets for immediate outcomes that they don’t take time to listen to their employees. By making time to listen to their employees’ concerns, questions and ideas, many companies will discover long-term efficiencies and improvements that will far outweigh any temporary setbacks caused by redirecting efforts. Some of the most successful companies have developed programs that actively encourage their employees to pursue and share their own ideas. Adobe, LinkedIn, and Ericcson, are just a few examples of a listening approach that is incredibly successful in business.
What are the greatest challenges to effective communication?
The challenges have changed slightly over the years with the increase of social media and chat. However, the greatest challenge to effective communication has been, and probably always will be, effective listening. People are in such a rush to give their own thoughts and ideas that they miss opportunities to better understand the problem or to see alternative solutions. The leaders who take the time to legitimately and completely listen to the people around them are the ones who will get the best results.
How can leaders communicate cultural changes within the workplace?
The more open and transparent companies are with their employees about why changes are taking place and how those changes will benefit employees and other stakeholders, the easier it will be to make the change happen quickly. More importantly, though, the leadership of the organization must truly model the change they want to see both explicitly and implicitly. It’s not enough to say you want your employees to have work-life balance if the leaders are still sending emails to employees on nights and weekends. If the company says mental health is important, then leaders can’t balk at requests for mental health days. Companies need to live their values at all levels for true change to be possible.
A breakdown in communication can lead to decreased productivity, failed project initiatives, and lack of employee engagement. A strategic communications plan is especially important during periods of change and organizational restructuring. At Precise Process Consulting, our specialists assess internal communications and help clients build strategic business plans, navigate crises, and identify new opportunities of growth and development.
For more information on this and other topics related to organizational communication, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.