Huh..?

Poor CommunicationHow often have you sat patiently while listening to someone give you a long and detailed explanation of something only to discover that you were more confused at the end than you were at the beginning? Would it surprise you to know that you’re not alone? Would it shock you to know that there are people in your organisation who feel exactly the same way about what you tell them?
 

Poor communication is something that is done quite easily

That’s because doing it well isn’t as easy as falling off a log. If it was, then everyone would be doing it; and clearly, they’re not. And that means that communicating effectively isn’t as effortless as many make it out to be.
 

So what’s the problem?

Why is it that people struggle to make themselves understood? Why is it that managers, for example, find it so difficult to explain policies and procedures in a coherent fashion?  One of the central problems is director- or management-speak. Terms such as strategy, which even scholars can’t agree on, targets, market share, etc. mean nothing to people who work outside of senior management. Why is that? 
 

We can't have it both ways

Think about it. On the one hand, your employees are told implicitly or explicitly to mind their own business and focus on their own jobs, and then on the other to take an interest in the overall well-being of the company, listen attentively to the high-level presentations that up until then were outside of their remit, and then go back to work all fired up and ready to support the corporate mission. You can’t have it both ways. People either have to be educated in the terminology, taught what it means for your organisation as well as them, and asked for their input, or be left out of the process altogether. The risk, of course, is that if you leave them out, then you can’t expect their full support. Why? Because they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. They won’t be able to grasp what all the graphs and arrows and plans and charts mean. They simply won’t see a connection between what they do and the overall objectives of the company. Imagine a workforce doign things day by day unconnected to your most important business goals. Well 42% of most employees do exactly that...
 

Most people swithch off when you broadcast

The problem of poor communication isn’t limited, however, to the content of the message. It also lies in the means of delivery. It isn’t a briefing, a broadcast, a lecture, a speech, an email, or a report. All of those things transmit information, however if no one understands the message, if no one takes the action that you want them to as a result, then you haven’t communicated. It’s that simple.
 
You see, the evidence that communication has occurred has nothing to do with you, and that’s perhaps one reason why there so little of it. The evidence that you have communicated your message effectively is seen in the behaviour of those to whom you made it. If you get no response, no questions, or the wrong behaviour, then it’s because they didn’t understand what you said.
 
It takes great skill to be able to create understanding in others when explaining a complex idea. And so rather than trying to impress your employees with your vocabulary, or attempting to save time by emailing everyone on your list ,or gathering them in an auditorium for an hour’s waffle, put your effort into creating involvement, getting them to discuss in their terms the building blocks of your own thinking. That involvement, the Q&A, the peer-to-peer discussions is what creates the understand and the engagement or commitment to what you want them to do in light of that understanding.
 
If you do that, then you’ll see a lot of nodding heads, not because they’re sleepy; rather, because they get it.
 
 

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