(Communication, that is!)
We have just worked with a management team, who like many, passionately agreed that improving “communication” was key to a more efficient and productive way of working.
Their organisation comprises around 120 people many of whom work out in the field, which accentuates the need for communication to flow well. Many staff had been moaning about “poor” communication and this generalised dissatisfaction had rumbled on for some time.
The trouble was that no one had really stopped to think about what aspects of communication needed to be addressed – it was some vague, overall gripe that “communication needed to be better”.
So of course, nothing changed.
With a new Chief Exec on board, we discussed with managers and team members what they thought the issues were and decided to dub “communication” the “C” word! We wanted to stop people in their tracks and get them to think about what they really meant by it.
We then wove this approach into the management development workshops we ran with them – challenging everyone to stop using the C word (!) and to start talking more specifically about what elements of communication needed to change and what actions they could take. As a result, specific actions have been agreed and implemented. For example, from senior management down to team leaders they have now instigated regular fortnightly one to ones with team members across the organisation as standard. They agreed that one to ones should be ranked a high priority management activity so that managers weren’t tempted to move or postpone them. They also reviewed their team meetings and tweaked them to get more input from team members and create more accountability to follow up on actions.
The Chief Exec has commented that one of the key results has been the speed at which issues are now addressed and decisions made. If someone on the front line has a suggestion or a concern there is the mechanism for this to be fed up the line swiftly, considered and then solutions and decisions cascaded back down or put up for discussion.
In the world of work, sweeping generalisations such as “communication here is rubbish” often go unchecked. After our sessions, the managers were a lot more confident about challenging such platitudes. Perhaps the next time you hear a similar moan in your organisation, you could issue a challenge to stop using the “C” word and start some more meaningful conversations around what needs to change...
For more guidance on how we can help your managers and leaders improve communication in their teams and departments take a look at our management development programmes or where communication has broken down between team members, we have a range of approaches which can help get things back on track
Stella Chandler and I founded Focal Point on a shared belief that a training course run in isolation doesn't work. We passionately believe there must be support both before and after the training or coaching session itself for it to make a difference. When I am not facilitating sessions with clients or looking at ways to grow the Focal Point business, you will find me in a calming yoga class...