Communications is like money …you always seem to need more of it, whether it is with business, family, churches, or governments. However, too much Communication can distract from the work at hand, while too little can hinder getting the right work done right, so leaders must manage the balance.
Unfortunately, the number of highly effective communicators in organizations falls far short of the needs. Hence, businesses are properly concerned about getting a critical mass of leaders substantially more proficient in communications skills.
An effective communications process requires the right balance of quality and quantity. Frontline communications is particularly challenging because of complexity and dynamics at organization overlaps, especially with lean organizations. However, when a leader gets it right, the benefits are exponentially better results, attitudes, and competitiveness.
Fundamental Principles are where effective Communication starts:
1. Truth & Action: All behaviors, words, and actions must be truthful. Actions match what is said.
2. Communications is a 360 process that includes facts, feelings, and actions, where communication travels full circle to be complete. The transmitter owns the message reception, which stimulates 360 thinking. “Think like an advertiser” to get the attention of the receivers.
3. All communications is linked and aligned to the mission, quality, finances, culture, and hope, all common to every successful leader’s daily agenda.
4. Communicate timely, that is, NOW, since information spoils with time like fruit. The faster information moves to the frontlines, the faster it benefits the business.
5. Repetition is the essence of learning and understanding accurately, a mantra of educators.
6. Multiple media are used multiple times, since people receive messages different ways. Use new credible technologies aggressively and appropriately.
7. Be strategic with messages: Focus on a limited number of Key Messages; Be completely open …no secrets, hidden agendas; less is more; fit the culture; But, be confidentially respectful about personal issues.
Everything we say and do communicates. We can’t avoid communicating. Even avoiding communicating communicates. Fortunately, communications skills can be learned and improved. Whatever your personality tendencies, experience, or profession, you can learn to be a highly effective communicator. It starts with Principles, then is followed by Best Practices, which we will cover next week.
…And Pass It On!
Quote from George Bernard Shaw: “The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished.”
ITEC (International Tire Exhibition and Conference) this week in Akron, Ohio, prominently presented some of the latest manufacturing technologies and innovations in industry. New automation, increased precision, and material science advances were consistent themes from exhibitors, speakers, and training. An abundance of industry experts attended, searching for new knowledge and technologies to sustain and grow their business.
Being a devoted people-watcher, it was fascinating to observe the diversity of people. This spanned the spectrum from gray-haired veterans to the wide-eyed youth, along with countless global cultures. People with experiential wisdom cruised the aisles, being very intentional in their search of new ideas. Youthful associates new to the industry were also making laps, searching with a curiosity of a young pup and learning how to bridge their state-of-the-art knowledge with the fundamental principles of industry. Their unquenched curiosity was refreshing. All were seeking to learn, unlearn, and relearn.
As the ITEC week progressed, the realization grew that the veterans, who helped bring the industry to where it is today, and the youth, who bring new ideas, must strategically collaborate to take it to the future. Equally evident is that the preparation of this collective talent is a critical success factor to sustain our society.
The seasoned talent must “pass it on”, that is, teach the youth the fundamentals of the business and impart their experiential wisdom amassed from personal successes and battle scars.
The youth must also “pass it on”, that is, bring their energy and state-of-the art knowledge to the table to improve current best practices. Both the seasoned and the youth must be open to “take the pass” from each other, being uninhibited in their search and unselfish in sharing, routinely doing brain-drains of each other.
Demands on the leaders of the past and today have been tough. Demands on the leaders of tomorrow will be tougher in a hyper-connected and expanding technological world. Solutions to the challenges will span from the routine to the revolutionary, from local to global, and from material to information. Subsequently, today’s leaders, veterans, and youth have a responsibility to equip each other to meet tomorrow’s challenges.
… “Pass It On!”
Quote from Thurgood Marshall: “None of us got where we are soley by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony, or a few nuns bent down and helped us pick up our boots.”