If there is one thing that can kill an organization from the inside out, it’s poor communication. Even if it doesn’t kill it, it can certainly hinder it from reaching its full potential.
I’m specifically talking about communication between managers and employees, leaders and staff, and one department to another… internal communication between people and teams.
I’m a firm believer that a lack of communication is the primary root cause of most inter-personal and inter-department struggles. It creates unnecessary conflict, tension and it robs of the trust and unity needed to make the vision of the organization truly come alive.
Why? Because when there is a lack of communication, people are either unaware or they are left to assume. Being unaware is a problem in and of itself but usually being unaware is less of the issue. In most cases people hear rumors or they pick up on subtle cues that let them know that they are not being communicated with. That’s when the bigger issue comes in to play… when they feel like they are being excluded or left in the dark. When that happens they start to assume (and often they assume the worst which creates more tension, drama and unnecessary confusion).
The problem mostly resides within one word and that’s CONTROL. When we try to hold to too much of it, by not communicating as frequently and as clearly as needed, we run the risk of alienating our teams and undermining our relationships.
You see, communication is really a relational issue built around trust. Do we trust our team? Do we want them to trust us? Do we trust others within our organization, from one department to the next? Are we making them a priority by sharing and including them as much as we can or are we simply blazing our own trail and not considering their feelings or how they might interpret being left out?
Regardless of any excuses we make for the reasons we might not communicate as well as we should, now is the time to change that. Every day gives us a new opportunity to be inclusive instead of divisive. When we communicate we inform and when we inform we make people feel important by showing they we care enough to bring them into the loop. It matters (even more than we might initially think).
Here are 4 Ways to Communicate Better With Your Team
1. Don’t Wait, Be Proactive – If there is a change coming or something notable brewing, let people know. Be honest, tell them you don’t have all the answers yet but that as the answers come you will inform them. Giving them at least a nugget is far better than not saying anything at all. They hear the rumors, they see the subtle signs but when you don’t speak… they are left to jump to their own conclusions and those conclusions will always slant negative, it’s just human nature.
2. Equip Them – Give them as much info as you can. If it’s an issue you don’t want communicated to the public yet, tell them so. If you have someone on your team who can’t keep their mouth shut then address it with that person specifically but don’t hinder the communication with the rest of the team just because of one loose cannon.
3. Stop Trying to Control Everything – If you are a leader or a manager, it’s not about you anyways. It’s about your team and you need to be doing everything you can to keep them in the loop and aware. The more they know, the more they can help you. Let them. Don’t get in their way. If you want them to communicate with you, you need to communicate with them… first.
4. Don’t Assume They Already Know – Just because you know doesn’t mean they know. Too often we get busy and sometimes think we have told people more than we have. Make sure you take the time to ask people if they are clear, if they are in the know and if they understand. Give them opportunities to voice their thoughts, listen and respond.
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