During this season of “gift-giving,” we offer a communication gift to you. When employees are asked what they want from leaders, better and more frequent communication tops their lists. When leaders are asked how effectively they communicate, most admit, “Not well or often enough.” They then go on to say:
“There isn’t enough time to communicate as well as I’d like.
“It’s better to say nothing than to say something negative.”
“At least I send emails every week to keep my staff informed.”
“Everyone understands how busy we are…communication slows us down.”
While most leaders say they don’t communicate enough, the truth is that we cannot not communicate. A message is received whenever leaders cancel standing staff meetings, fail to greet colleagues, ask direct reports to relay messages, listen to one employee and not another, or are “silent” after company announcements. Leaders’ choices, whether intentional or not, send strong messages about who and what is valued. Without dialogue, many messages are interpreted negatively and are detrimental to engagement, productivity and positive outcomes. Even when leaders don’t “talk” or “listen,” employees do. They discuss what a leader’s verbal and nonverbal messages might really mean.
There is a clear, bottom line incentive for improving communication skills. Best Buy, for example, found that highly effective communicators increase store performance. For every tenth of a percentage point boost in engagement scores, individual stores saw a $100,000 increase in operating income annually (Gartner, 2013).
Considering that much of what leaders accomplish each day is done through others, communication effectiveness is crucial. While some leaders complain about too much communication, what actually slows an organization down is poor communication. When employees are confused about priorities, misinterpret policies, fail to ask questions, wonder about how the company is performing, or listen to unsubstantiated rumors, they make mistakes, and mistakes cost organizations time and money. This holiday season, give the gift of more effective communication.
Since communication is a “gift” that keeps on giving, please download our gift to you:
“Key Communicators: 5 Questions All Leaders Should Ask.”
Learn more by ordering:
OutsideIN: Tips for Building an Engaging and Inclusive Environment Flip Focus Guide.