As good leaders, we are always seeking opportunities to learn and grow. As Stephen Covey explains in Principle-Centered Leadership: “The key to success is dedication to life-long learning.”
Part of that learning process is exploring new approaches to solving old problems – like creating a better culture, providing better leadership, building a shared vision and being a more effective communicator.
Starting with the idea of a shared vision, all actions, including communication, should be in support of the vision. Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline says: “A shared vision is not an idea...it is rather, a force in people’s hearts...at its simplest level, a shared vision is the answer to the question ‘What do we want to create?’”
Senge continues: “Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes.”
Communication within a Business
Effective communication is critical to the success of an organization and the easiest way to share knowledge. Most companies focus on “top-down” communication as it is necessary to keep employees aligned with company mission, vision and strategy and on-track to reach performance goals.
Another model is “bottom-up” communication. This is a process by which lower-level employees can communicate directly with senior managers to provide feedback, complaints, or suggestions regarding day-to-day operations. This is a popular trend as it encourages more participation and openness. When used properly, it gives senior management direct feedback from customer-facing employees.
This allows for a more-nimble approach to making changes to operational procedures and processes that will drive increased revenue and ultimately, customer satisfaction.
Seven Characteristics of Effective Communication
To help create better communication in the workplace from either direction, try practicing these seven principles of communication – better known as the “Seven Cs”:
1. Concrete. Make sure that all communication is factual, with very little left to interpretation. This gives the audience a very clear picture of your intentions.
2. Coherent. Starting with the messenger, make sure he/she has a good understanding of the topic and knows “what goes where and what comes when.”
3. Clarity. Building on coherence, the message should be very clear, utilizing short sentences in the active voice. The recipient should not be confused or have any difficulty comprehending the meaning.
4. Commitment. The messenger must be committed to the topic and deliver the message with passion. This helps create enthusiasm and excitement with the recipient.
5. Consistency. Word choices matter. The message needs to be straight-forward with little doubt as to its meaning or intention.
6. Completeness. Building on all the above, this adds a component of finishing the message and any actions required as a result.
7. Courteous. It should go without saying, but always be polite, honest and respectful to your audience and deliver the message with a positive attitude.
Practicing these seven principles will not only improve communication skills, but also ensure a more effective workplace. Applying the Seven Cs will lead to less misunderstanding and higher levels of trust between teammates. It allows for easier conflict resolution and a more open workplace environment. Implementing effective communication within a team can increase employee job satisfaction and self-esteem. All of these benefits lead to a greater company success.
As we all strive to be life-long learners and build that culture within our own organizations, focusing on better communication is a critical component. The benefits are many with few drawbacks. And there is very little cost other than time and effort.
Tim Brooks is VP of Sales & Vendor Management for PSA Security Network. Request more info about PSA at www.securityinfowatch.com/10214742.