FAQs With Phil: How Do I Get My Company to Rock at Communicating?
We’ve received so many questions pertaining to effective communication among teams and across all levels that it warranted its own mini-series. This last of three articles includes 10 tips to excellent communications.
In this Mind Your Business series, FAQs With Phil, COSE’s own Phil Stella answers some of the most frequently asked questions small business owners and employees have regarding how to communicate effectively*.
Reaction to the last two pieces has been great. If you didn’t get a chance to read them, check out Why are Some Leaders Poor Communicators—and it’s counterpart, Why Do My Employees Stink at Communicating?.
It looks like you enjoyed poking fun at both bosses and colleagues who were poor communicators. We concluded that many of them were hired or promoted in spite of their communication skills, rather than because of them.
And the reasons were ironically similar:
• It's not on the “test.” Few organizations place written or verbal skills on the “gotta have” list when interviewing candidates for any level position, unless they’re in sales or customer-facing areas.
• It's no big deal. Many employers don’t include written or verbal skills in their performance management system because they don’t see that much value in them.
• They didn’t learn them in school. Most high schools offer few, if any, courses in presentation or interpersonal communication skills. The same is true for many college business curricula. So, organizations must often provide their staffs verbal and written communication training to make up for that. However, as you’re probably catching on… most of them don’t.
We’ve talked a lot about the causes of the problem, but what about the solutions? What can organizations do about these scenarios? What can they do to make sure they can confidently claim, “My company rocks at communicating?” Let’s find out.
Check out these 10 tips to creating organizations that value excellence in communication.
Excellence in Communication Tip No. 1: It starts at the top. C-level leaders must commit to creating and sustaining a culture that values and rewards effective communication.
Excellence in Communication Tip No. 2: Or, split it up among departments. If focusing on c-level leaders is too big of a challenge, given the organization’s size and scope, then ‘enlightened’ executives can focus this effort on their respective division or department. So, if the whole organization can’t embrace the goal, maybe the Finance or Manufacturing departments could.
Excellence in Communication Tip No. 3: Put it on the “test.” A key component of the process is to make sure communication competencies are “on the test.” That means adding these factors to the gotta have list for any open position, no matter the role or level. While they can’t be the most important criteria, they could be the tie-breaker between two otherwise similarly qualified candidates.
Excellence in Communication Tip No. 4: Add it to performance management reviews. Once baked into the selection process, the next step is to include them in the performance management system. If employees at all levels see that demonstrating specific workplace communication skills as a piece of their objectives, they’ll pay attention.
Excellence in Communication Tip No. 5: Make it quantifiable. If your employees’ performance evaluations include quantifiable skill improvements, they’ll pay more attention.
Excellence in Communication Tip No. 6: Tie it into salary and promotions. If those evaluations directly impact their salary increases and readiness for advancement, they’ll really pay a lot of attention.
Excellence in Communication Tip No. 7: Readily communicate about communication. Build communication strengths and weaknesses into the ongoing performance coaching process. With each conversation, include what’s working and what still needs more work.
Excellence in Communication Tip No. 8: Create informal opportunities for feedback. Besides these formal conversations (performance reviews, etc), regularly include informal feedback on specific memos, presentations and interactions.
Excellence in Communication Tip No. 9: Offer professional development programs. These programs can include topics such as writing, phone skills, meeting management and presentation skills. Make a commitment to empowering all employees to improve their workplace skills, including communication.
Excellence in Communication Tip No. 10: Master the skills. Work hard to be a positive model of these competencies to influence staff. Regularly ask for feedback from them on your effort and results. Walk the walk.
While improving an entire organization’s communicating competencies can be a daunting long-term challenge, simply start small with your immediate reports and watch it catch on and grow from there. Do what you can to make sure you can confidently say, "My company rocks at communicating."
Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, www.communicate-confidently.com, 440 449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, communication styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.
*If you have a question for Phil, please send him an email at Phil@communicate-confidently.com