“Do you have a communications strategy?” I was asked when I started out. Err, well not one written down. Or really articulated. Ok, nope.
Partly because this is definitely something I put in the ‘BIG Business' Box. Partly because I really didn’t think I needed one (I mean, there were just a couple of us, chatting away over mail or phone?). And partly because in the long list of to-do's, this was an area I definitely thought I could wing it. ..
But of course, that’s exactly the time where the clarity should start. Because getting great communication is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses as they grow and something that we have seen first hand in both every employee survey that we at TheHRhub have ever managed and the number of hours spent ironing out disputes and gripes in businesses which have been caused by (weak) communication). Just scanning back at the results which cover hundreds and hundreds of companies, the phrase“ better communication needed” is in the ‘ things to be improved’ section of over 90% of the results.
But it’s such a big area and it means so many different things to people, that you need to really drill down further to understand what lies behind it ( hint: it’s not just “oh, I didn’t get that memo…”).
The fastest, smartest ways of empowering people and solving any business dilemmas (HR or otherwise) are to keep communication and conversations on a basis of information flow. But as Stephen Covey knows only too well “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” And he should know a thing or two about this having written “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.
For communication to be good in your business, it needs to be open, transparent and consistent. And it starts with HOW you communicate. If you follow that mantra, communication becomes the way in which you empower and involve your team members, keep everyone aware of what’s going on and where you’re heading.
Including a communications plan as part of your other strategic priorities and owning it is key. Why? Because if you don’t write it down and plan it like every other aspect of your growth, it’s easy to let it slide and you end up having no consistent voice in your business.
Communication should breathe life into you and your team and help to motivate fantastic performance and drive your customers and clients forward. Some our top tips for daily and weekly practices which in turn form the cultural tone of your business are shown below:
- Be omni-channel: make sure your plan includes how you want to channel communication through your business (i.e. systems) as well as what you want to say and when. Time and money is lost where you use 3 three different systems to do the same thing. Businesses I know use Slack, Convo and Google+ (to name but a few) successfully to share information in real time.
- Be transparent: most leaders worry about how much information to share with their teams, but well timed information shared with a goal for the team to get behind is a valuable way of making the team feel included.
- Be vulnerable: go first to inspire trust from those around you and talk about where you have challenges and what help you might need.
- Be constructive: when there is a whiff of dissent, show that you are interested in what is being suppressed and allow it to safely surface so others can discuss it honestly.
- Be clear: with your goals, your direction and all you need from your team so that people know what is expected.
- Be bold: confront difficult issues and don’t let problems fester. Speak out but make sure the person is clear what was expected and the consequences of the failure in accepting accountability.
- Be inclusive: with any goal, focus on the collective outcomes.
- Be energetic and start as you mean to go on: have buzz sessions at the start of each day to rev up the energy and keep everyone on track.
- Be adaptable: for managing important information, consider several “channels” for making sure the information hits home - a face-to-face conversation, followed up with an email and maybe a poster or a catch up at the end of the week.
- Be timely: Avoid long meetings. It sounds obvious but it can deplete energy very quickly. Best to start with a clear agenda, sent to everyone at least a day in advance and requests for contributions then follow up with notes afterwards to make sure the information is fully understood.
If you want to chat about how outsourced HR can boost your business and employee success, then we can help. Get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0203 627 7048 to arrange an initial, no-obligation consultation.
We’ll pinpoint any potential issues that are at play in your workplace, and give you practical advice around what you need to do next.
TheHRhub: The ultimate HR support for startups and SMEs.