Communication Strategy – The key to success
Communication is key to success in business, in relationships, in projects and particularly in Change Management.
There are many reasons why it is important for a business to achieve effective communication, for example:
- Motivates employees – helps them feel part of business
- Easier to control and coordinate business activity – prevents different parts of business going in opposite directions
- Makes successful decision making easier – decisions are based on more complete and accurate information
- Better communication improves relationships with customers and suppliers
- Gains acceptance of change
The link between communication and motivation is particularly important. Good communication is an important part of motivating employees as it: ensures that everyone is working towards same company goals; ensures that everyone understand the reasons fro change and buy-in to it; enables employees to be involved in decision-making; provide a means where employees can offer feedback and give suggestions; allows a visible method where employee achievements are promoted.
Not to be underestimated also at times of change is where directly or indirectly impacted individuals can seek support; whether from a health and wellbeing perspective or just from a better understanding perspective. So good communication strategies deliver a method of engagement beyond the obvious.
Finally, for any change project to succeed, “the meaning of communication is the response you get.” This means an organisation or change team needs to take responsibility for the effectiveness of their communication. Organisations or teams usually blame the audience or readership for any misunderstanding. However, if the message does not get across as was intended, then a critical look at an organisations or Change Teams way of communicating is much needed. Quite often, the response obtained from those impacted does not so much depend on what was said but how it was said and how the impact was perceived.
Using the experience of a multitude of local and global change initiatives from small scale change to company downsizing, Changera™ provides communication strategies that work.
At Project inception, we first we help you or your change team to understand the stakeholder audience(s), the identified impacted individuals; this means, where possible, knowing vital information about them including HOW they are likely to be impacted by the change, their functional structure and how they are line or matrix managed. This is the start of our documented strategy.
Next, we plan both what to say and HOW to say it at every step of the way – starting at the overview level then getting down to the detail as it becomes available.
The process and messaging is also about remembering that the non-verbal part of communication, i.e. the vocal and the visual, affect the success or otherwise of communication much more than the verbal since people receive messages in different ways i.e. Kinesthic, Audio or visual.
Detailed planning also includes evaluation, then use of the most appropriate communication channels. The choices are many: face-to-face, email, video meetings, presentations, websites, news releases, even the internet or the intranet.
Part of this is that we consider even the layout of the organisation or an office itself as there could well be geographic, cultural or physical barriers. For example, the importance of the layout and even the arrangement of furniture should never be underestimated in helping or hindering information flow. Some organisations thrive in an open-plan office with staff sharing space. Even perceived accessibility to senior managers makes a big difference. Bureaucracy and red-tape create barriers which stifle productivity where proximity is needed. On the other hand, there might be certain types of organisations and/or nature of work, particularly creative, where employees need private space to deliver quality work. Even informal methods of information such as the cleaners are considered.
Finally, barriers can exist because of cultural and linguistic differences in a company with a multi-national staff. Here cultural awareness training goes a long way in sensitising employees to different sensibilities, particularly at the managerial level.
Linguistic barriers are not restricted to different mother tongues. Differences in expression, perception and reception occur within the same language. Therefore, advocate the use of Plain English, i.e. keep your language and style short and simple by following a few golden rules. Cut out jargon, ‘business speak’ or complex and ambiguous language that may confuse the receiver in any way.
Apart from these fundamentals to clear and effective communication we also look to remove barriers by establishing a mental and emotional rapport between the team and their internal or external audience, be they your staff, customers/clients or partners. Here, trust is important as credibility and confidence will soon be lost if it is seen or perceived that vital information is being withheld. Bonding and team spirit among staff is equally important to minimise the insidious effects of ‘canteen or cleaner’ gossip.
If possible, we advocate appointment of a communications manager, to support the team in helping to plan, craft and deliver communications; monitoring internal and authorising external communication, especially of a sensitive nature, sent out to the media or clients.
We ensure that successful and effective communication is two-way and find ways to make it easier for staff at lower level to give feedback or make suggestions if they do not have to interact directly with their superiors.
Taking the Changera™ approach in defining a workable and meaningful communications strategy will not only deliver effective and successful communications but will show the response you get will have the meaning you intended; better acceptance and buy-in and bedding-in of the change.