When employees walk through your workplace door, they have a choice. They can expend the minimum amount of energy on their jobs. Or they can apply their discretionary energy to get the job done with extraordinary, high-performance results.
The difference is effective leadership communication.
Management communication unlocks employees’ energy – their physical, mental and creative energy – to achieve high performance. It also:
- Connects employees to a shared vision
- Provides context (the big-picture perspective)
- Creates shared understanding around a common purpose
- Interprets what’s relevant for achieving the organization’s goals and executing its strategy
- Role-models the organization’s values
This is especially important in these times of COVID disruption. Data from Forrester reveals that employees trust their employers as a source of information about COVID-19 more than they trust governments and social media.
Before we get into the ten R’s of management communications, let’s first look a bit deeper at why effective communication from leadership matters.
How Important Are Management Communication Skills?
Renowned management expert Peter Drucker believes that 60 percent of all management problems result from poor communication in management.
When leaders communicate effectively, there are many organizational benefits. These include:
- Improved performance through improved employee decision-making and focus of effort when leaders communicate consistent information and clear directions to their employees.
- Improved employee productivity, retention and advocacy (collectively referred to as ‘employee engagement’) when leaders communicate a compelling picture of where the organization is going and how it’s going to get there, and actively involve employees in that journey.
- Improved trust levels which positively impact productivity, income and profits. Low levels of trust erode the potential of an organization’s workforce. One study reported on Inc.com claims that only 49% of employees feel that senior management have their best interests at heart.
- Improved collaboration and effective cross-functional working when leaders promote a cooperative exchange of timely information, knowledge sharing and a shared sense of purpose. This carries through to all cases of project management.
- Improved execution of the organization’s strategy when leaders communicate and inspire employees to deliver on that strategy with enthusiasm and excellence.
Why is Communication Important in Leadership?
Pieces of information are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. It’s hard to know how all the pieces fit together to create something meaningful without the picture on top of the puzzle box.
Equally, it’s hard for employees to determine how pieces of information meaningfully fit together if there is no ‘big-picture’ context for that information.
The role of communication is to impart meaning. By connecting pieces of information to the organizational context – its vision, values and strategic intent – leaders give employees the organizational equivalent of the picture on top of the jigsaw puzzle box.
This enables employees to derive greater meaning from their work. It helps them make the connection between the organization’s strategic intent, and their contribution to delivering on those aspirations.
Leaders give meaning to the organization’s values by consistently role-modeling the desired behaviors. When employees can see the values demonstrated through leaders’ actions, there is greater employee alignment to those values.
The Ten R's of Management Communication
Maximize effective management communication by following these tips we’ve called ‘The Ten R's of Management Communication’.
Communicate only when there is a compelling reason to do so. Every piece of communication should serve to move you closer to achieving your key objectives.
The meaning of your communication is the response you get. Your effectiveness as a communicator is determined by what employees do in response to your communication, not by how well you think you communicate.
- RULE OF THREE
Apply the Rule of Three; make only three points per communication.
Deliver the right message to the right employees at the right time so as not to waste employees’ time and distract them from the job at hand.
Refresh your approach periodically to avoid your communications becoming dull or predictable.
Build rapport with your employees to foster their buy-in to your communication on both rational and emotional levels.
Repeat your key messages at every opportunity. The standard communication maxim still applies: ‘Say it seven times in seven different tactics’. When you start getting bored with the message, employees are probably just tuning into it.
Reinforce your messages by connecting them to the organization’s vision, values and strategy to provide a compelling context for your communication. This helps give employees the ‘big picture’ perspective.
Constantly review the effectiveness of your communication. Seek regular feedback from your audience to determine if their response to your communication is helping or hindering the achievement of the desired outcomes.
Keep it real. Authenticity underpins credibility.
Workplace Communications Strategies
Knowing the value and having the right tactics is only part of the puzzle. Implementing these requires reaching employees with the right content, through the best channel.
Leaders should be widely visible and appear accessible. Connecting with staff through video updates is an effective way to provide information and convey sincerity to everyone concerned.
Regular communication is critical. Tools like corporate newsletters provide valuable reassurance to staff around changing business operations, convinces them that executives are mindful of their concerns and motivates them to contribute to shared success.
Communication is a two-way street. An anonymized feedback mechanism, such as an online staff survey, allows employees to submit questions, air concerns or provide feedback. Responses are collected and aggregated results exported.
Good management communication is essential to reach and engage your workforce, especially in times of change. Following the ten R’s tips will ensure your business stays on track for success.