Best Principles and Practices of Communication unlock the full potential of organizations, relationships, and even families. The most successful people are so skilled at communication, it is seemingly central to their psyche and almost natural. The reality is that these people are disciplined to a learned strategic and tactical process.
So, continuing with Communications Best Practices from last week:
1. Communication is an expectation, being a line item on the performance appraisal.
2. All content is relevant and supportive to the business.
3. All content is tight and concise.
4. The Communication process is visible and easily accessible.
5. Messages deliberately cascade through the 360 communications process. Information relayed to leaders is expected to make it to the entire team, with feedback brought back.
6. Formal Communication Training primes leaders and teams to communicate right but IS FOLLOWED-UP on the frontlines with the leader’s personal coaching.
7. Audit Communications, with leaders taking laps on the frontlines to know if teams are thinking and acting right, and with formal “self” and HR audits.
8. Key Messages, a principle from last week, also merits mention as a Best Practice. Key messages link and align executives and teams. More on this in a later blog.
9. Repetition is routine and perceived as a positive part of the culture to ensure understanding, as is the same discipline of airplane pilots.
10. Flow charts, graphics, and photographs are used extensively. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a flow chart is worth ten thousand.
11. Executives lead the process: …and if the top executive doesn’t get it, leaders who understand must champion the communications cause themselves.
12. Be open …no secrets; no hidden agendas; be vulnerable; reveal passions and concerns.
13. Use new technologies and social media efficiently, effectively, and aggressively.
14. Emails are efficient and effective: Have a two-sentence summary at the start; 1 subject, 1 screen, & 1 attachment per email; reread to ensure tight and concise content before sending; eliminate orphan words; don’t instinctively “cc” everyone in a reply.
15. Personal voicemails are efficient and effective. Smile, which can be detected over the phone; say but little but say it well: “Hi, this is Mark’s voicemail. Please leave a message.”
Good Communication is as learned and intentional as perfect driving is to keep the organization on the road. Conversely, leaders who are impulsive and reactive must work much harder to gain understanding, encountering many bumps in the road and more failures.
Without learned Communications skills, a leader’s team fills in the gaps with their assumptions and deductions. Some will get it right and some won’t. So, be deliberate about learning it and disciplined about doing it!
…And Pass It On!
Quote from famous Viking leader, Rollo: “Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy, and mutual valuing.”
Bridging the “Communications Gap” is more than the words and speech of communicating, but is a planned process followed up by deliberate Best Practices. Several of these are listed below, following the principles from last week’s blog:
1. Communicate “Communications”: Leaders must communicate, coach, and demonstrate the Fundamental Principles and Best Practices of Communications. Leaders as well as teams must understand the why and what of the communications strategies and systems, as well as the expectations.
2. Motivate the team to communicate: Inspire the team to initiate communications and work the full process to turn the “how and what” of communications into reality. Over-communicate the right information, BUT be highly conscious of the quality and quantity.
3. Plan the communications: “Think” about communications, planning the content and delivery systems. Communications are tailored to those in the process loop, in language they can understand and with systems that they easily use. Communications cannot be impulsive.
4. The Human Resources team is used as communications experts, both in how to use the systems and how to construct content. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, either because the organization doesn’t let HR into the “circle” or HR is not as proficient in communications as necessary. However, my experience unquestionably validates that the Communications process works best when HR owns the responsibility to ensure the teams are proficient in communicating proper messages with the proper systems.
5. Key Messages: A max of 3 key messages must always be a focus of the top leadership teams. More than 3 dilutes the effectiveness of message retention. A Best Practice of President Reagan, “the great communicator”, was to cascade one of his key messages each day through his team, out into the world.
6. 4 X 4 Communications, ie, communicating critical messages 4 ways X 4 times increases the probability of understanding: Face to Face, Show & Tell, Written, Audio (See blog http://frontlinefocus.us/?p=601 for details of this practice)
7. Make it personal: Design content and systems to best reach the personal level of the people where the message is easily understood. “Think like an advertiser” to link the message to something familiar, like culture, family, babies, fast cars, puppies, personal injury, or benefit.
Regardless of how wide the gap may seem, Fundamental Principles and Best Practices help leaders bring it all together on the frontline to execute business strategy. The leader can be more successful when everyone knows what they must know.
More Communications Best Practices next week.
…And Pass It On!
Quote from your’s truly: “The specifics of what is communicated is less important than how the communication makes people think and act.”