Consistent Communication Creates Company Clarity
Alliteration. This a form of communication that utilizes the same consonant or sounding consonant in two or more consecutive words. You will note this technique was demonstrated in the title of this article. Technique is important in any form of communication. While this is a theoretical example, most businesses focus, or should focus, on how the methods of communication can be used internally and externally.
Methods of Communication
Other than nonverbal cues, intentional or unintentional,there are only a few methods of Communication– oral, written and sign. In today’s world however, there seems to be an infinite number of methods of Transmission: email, text, written memo or letter, publication - online or printed, facsimile, postal delivery, overnight delivery, messenger delivery, one on one discussion, group discussion, PowerPoint presentation, whiteboard, chalkboard, and flip boards on easels. To further add to the complicated world of communication transmission, we can’t forget to add the new complex and confusing language of emoji. If members of a company do not know or understand how to communicate what to whom, and within what time parameters, then there is a clog in the company’s operational system. Systems need to be designed around means and methods to communicate ideas, issues, and instruction at all levels of the company.
Meetings and Memos. Every business, no matter how large or small, has meetings and memos. The purpose of these systems is to convey specific information. A meeting could be as simple as a Project Manager giving direction to a Foreman. Another example is the Sales meeting or Planning meeting that drones on and on. The Memo, or sometimes more “sophisticatedly stated”, Memorandum, could be two sentences, two paragraphs, two pages or even two volumes. When a Meeting or a Memo is used to communicate, prior to using the method, thought must be expended as to why a particular method is being used, how will the communication be received by the recipient and most importantly what is the desired result following the transmission.
What do I want?
When we communicate, it should be deliberate, with an intent and purpose. Everyday you are sending and receiving communication. How many times have you said something you did not mean to say? How many times have you sent an email and wished you could have deleted something after you pressed send? It is always advisable to think before you speak and write. However, at times in the course of debate, confusion or even crisis, you do not communicate what you meant. It is important to understand why you are communicating. You either want someone to do something or stop doing something. Even if you are just expressing a concept or idea, why are you doing it? Think of that concept for a moment and you will realize every communication encompasses one of those two desired results. Before you start your communication therefore, consciously think of what it is that you specifically want as an outcome.
In operating your business, you should always have goals. Goals are short term and long term. The topic of goal setting and more specifically goal achieving, will be reserved for a more detailed article in the future. As applicable to clear and consistent communication within your company, all methods must be in conformity with your goals and with your culture. In my prior life as a litigator, I would frequently have to conduct “voir dire”, or ask questions of potential jurors. I found that no matter what someone did for a living or what their lifestyle was, there are only three types of people - The Salesman, The Engineer, and the Artist. The three types of people pertain to how they arrive at a conclusion. For example, if you have a concept that starts at “A” and ends at “E”, this is how they think:
Salesman: A straight to E to close the sale.
Engineer: A to B to C to D to E to come to the conclusion
Artist: A to L to C to X to M, maybe to R and then eventually E
Who are the people you have placed in your company? What are their jobs? How will they respond to your communication? How can you best get through to them? By no means am I suggesting a diversification in your communication, just the opposite. If you have a sales goal to meet, then all your team must understand that any communication must be in furtherance of that goal. If you have a production goal to meet, then your team must understand that any communication must be in furtherance of that goal. This principle refers to each team or department.
Every company is defined by the specific culture that exists within and how they are perceived by others.. Your culture can be by design or it can be by default. Default is not a positive outcome with culture (unless you are discussing the default settings on a job) and that should not be the standard or the norm.
Management and labor must be able to communicate with each other openly and freely. Fear, intimidation, and avoidance do not create a productive culture and this culture actually leads to a lack of communication, lack of consistency, lack of collaboration, a certainty of confusion, possible chaos and eventually collapse of the job, or company. Alternatively, a culture with open communication creates clarity, consistency and a collaborative spirit. This type of culture eliminates anxiety, which affects job performance. If there is the knowledge that uncertainty can be cured through inquiry without intimidation, process without punishment, method without mayhem, just communication without castration, that leads to success. The concept, and secret to “Success”, I believe, has been best described by Chris Gardner, who was characterized by Will Smith in the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness. “The Secret to Success is: Find something you love to do so much; you can’t wait for the sun to rise to do it all over again”. How would you like a company culture filled with people that believe that?
Process and procedure
To run a company smoothly you must have processes and procedures. As those concepts relate to this article, determine if all your processes and procedures are written or the staff, “knows what to do”. The greater steps you can take to avoid uncertainty and miscommunication, the greater chance your operations will run smoothly and without error. While it may not seem that you need to prepare for every possible scenario, at a minimum you should prepare for any probable scenario. The longer your company has been in business the longer you have become aware of how your business is run, both positively and negatively. If a situation has previously occurred, and you created a solution, let your team know what and how. Memorialize that and other scenarios. Create safety manuals, planning manuals, sales manuals, work process manuals and other manuals that apply to your specific business and expertise. In today’s business climate employees and independent contractors do not need to be strong enough to weight lift pounds and pounds of paper manuals. There is the availability to utilize password protected online resources, whether it be internet or intranet.
Comments, Complaints and other “Situations”
I’m sure you have heard of Murphy’s Law, “If something can go wrong, it probably will”. First of all, be glad your name is not Edward Murphy, or at least not the Edward Murphy. In the course of business, things happen. When they do, how are they communicated? how are they documented? what happens with that documentation? There must not only be systems in place, those systems must be known at all times to all involved. Within those systems there must protocols and a clear and concise understanding of what the chain of command is, and who must eventually take the final authoritative action. While we initially have discussed Murphy’s Law, you must also be mindful Yhprum’s Law, “Everything that can work, will work”. When good happens in a business, how is that communicated? how is that documented? what happens to the documentation? As mentioned earlier in this article the creation of a positive company culture is critical. Team members need to feel comfortable to speak up and know their communication is heard! As a business owner or manager, you have the ability and responsibility to create and control how your business is run. Clear, concise and comprehensive communication is critical to your overall success.
Gaining knowledge is always a good step to better business. Gaining the knowledge however is only the first step. Now it is the time not only for reflection on your newly gained or freshly renewed knowledge, now is the time for introspection. How many of the concepts set forth herein currently exist in your company? How can your models be tweaked? What needs to be created? You have invested your time in reading this article and consuming the communication. Now invest your time in taking action so you can Conceive, Believe Achieve all that you dreamed.
Success Facilitator; Jeff Schwartz after receiving his BA in Communications from SUNY, received his JD in San Diego, CA. After a successful legal career on both coasts spanning over 30 years, he established CBA, Conceive Believe Achieve, a business consulting company with an emphasis on Operations. He is also an experienced author and speaker.
Jeff has started and sold five companies of his own, and has consulted with over 300 businesses. His knowledge is industry agnostic covering business large and small, public and private, products and services, as well as construction. He has held positions of leadership in political and non- profit organizations. Through CBA, he has also served as the President and COO of diverse businesses.
Jeff’s current clients are businesses that are experiencing challenges in operations or transitions. This includes multigenerational business and mergers/acquisitions. Once he is retained, he continues to work with the business owners and managers as long as necessary so that they too can Conceive Believe Achieve.