We can all agree that one of the key determinants of the success of a project, a team or an organization is strong communication. Although some leaders have a natural gift for communicating with their teams, it seems to be the exception rather than the rule. The ‘good news’ is that communicating effectively is not rocket science. You can boil it down to the following six questions:
If the bones of it are so obviously simple, why then is it so elusive to communicate effectively with our desired audiences? More often then not, it’s a combination of factors.
1. We live in our own worlds, and because we (or our immediate peers) know what’s going on, we assume that everyone else knows too. Well, they don’t. And few of us are psychic.
2. Although many of us have ‘communications people’ in-house, these resources are often dedicated to other activities, stretched to capacity or just ill-suited to the task at hand. Communicating effectively takes time and effort. Doing it off the corner of your desk never ends well.
3. Communicating should be easy. We talk to each other every day. Do we really need to invest in a communications plan? See point number 1. And yes, we do need a plan because there is a certain element of strategy involved in effective communication. The ‘who, what, when and how’ needs to be aligned with the activities of the group or the information could prove irrelevant.
4. We are all experts in communication. We talk to each other in-person, by phone, by email or on social media literally hundreds of times a day. Why would we need a communications specialist? Just because you do it, does not mean you do it well. Communications specialists bring several skills to the table including best practices and experience with what works and what doesn’t, and an outside perspective and objectivity that will help ask the right questions and target the language to the audience.
Your team(s) need to know the right things at the right times and communicating with your intended audience should not be difficult. What it should be is a priority; one that includes a commitment to being open, thoughtful, strategic and disciplined. Communicating properly is every bit as important as any other activity in your organization, and in many cases, the ‘most’ important. Don’t leave it to chance. Being proactive and dedicating the right resources will pay off and go a long way towards supporting your success.