‘Runaway’ courtesy of Susan Young, Emily Buchanan and Ester Parobek – many thanks, I suspect this was not the audience it was intended for, but it does make a good point!

Effective Communication – If you have had the time to watch the video above, then get back to work, you’re slacking!  No, only kidding.  The video is cute and illustrates a very simple point.  If you do not communicate effectively (or communicate badly) then don’t be surprised when people get the wrong idea and do unexpected things!  In any organisation whether it is business, Government, not-for-profit or charity the importance of good communication must not be underestimated.  In strategic circles we talk about being ‘aligned’ (and have done so long before alignment became a popular buzzword). Being aligned does not come about because of organisational structures or the occasional cascade meeting.  Being aligned comes about through successful communication.

Communication cannot be left to chance.  You may well think you are a good communicator and that your management team are good as well, but without the rigour of a formal process, even the best communicators miss things.  Organisations That invest time and effort into creating clear lines of communication will rapidly build up levels of trust in the workforce, leading to increases in productivity and morale.

There are several things you can do to ensure good communication:

Start at the top – make sure you have defined a clear vision and mission for your organisation. This may seem trite, but staff want to know what the company is aiming for and have a clear idea of what the company actually does.  these two simple statements can make a huge difference to the way staff view an organisation.

Create clear top-liner and departmental objectives – This one is really difficult.  This is where true alignment can take place. Defining good objectives is absolutely key. You will need to establish a process to do this.  Look at something like the Balanced Scorecard approach, when used correctly it clearly defines objectives as continuous improvements and assigns ownership.

Deliver the message clearly and passionately – Not everyone will be involved in creating objectives, but they will need to know what they are. A communication plan has to be created and the best people used to deliver the messages.  do not simply rely on a management cascade structure.  Some managers are brilliant operationally, but very poor communicators.

Use multiple mediums to deliver your messages – Face to face is of course best, but this is not practical on a day to day basis.  also, you need to keep reinforcing your messages.  In the army they say, tell them at the start, tell them in the middle and tell them again at the end.  this can be achieved in many ways, make sure the communications plan includes websites, e-mails, paper, posters, anything you can think of to reinforce your messages.

Get people involved – Probably one of the most difficult things to do, but one of the most essential.  people need to buy-in and take ownership of the work they do.  Yes of course there will always be people who turn up just to do a job, but you may be surprised at how many what to be part of the action, to take on the extra responsibility of ownership and then to be told they are doing a good job.

And finally, listen – All to often we forget this important aspect of communication.  To listen.  to show a bit of empathy, to be genuinely interested in someone else’s views and how they are feeling about the work they do.  Be a good listener.