Former presidential speech write James Humes is often quoted as saying “the art of communication is the language of leadership.”
Although some might argue there is science behind communication and they would be correct, communication, and more specifically leadership communication, is more art than science.
Leaders must communicate consciously if they want to get the most out of the people they lead. Far too many leaders, the 44% that recently reported they were unhappy with employee performance, practice unconscious communication.
For leaders desirous of raising the bar on performance in their organization here are three proven communication strategies that will transform your work environment:
1) Define and Communicate Your “Championship Game”
From the first day of training camp everyone that is part of an athletic team at any level from little league through the professional ranks knows the ultimate objective and vision for their team (organization) is to reach the Championship Game (for baseball it’s the World Series, football The Super Bowl, soccer it’s the World Cup, etc).
It is the inspiring vision to win the championship that keeps everyone focused, doing the right things for the right reasons so they can contribute to the team’s success, while also being able to reap the well-defined, and not so-well defined, individual and collective rewards and opportunities that come with their contribution.
Many managers complain about having to light a fire under their people to motivate them to follow through on anything beyond the minimum job requirements. Investing some time and energy to identify ways to communicate to motivate in a way that inspires their people and lights a fire within them, is a much better use of a managers efforts.
This approach can will make a difference in a very short amount of time (for a specific formula on how to make this happen visit www.EmployeeMotivationEquation.com).
2) Address issues promptly, directly and respectfully
Communicating in this manner eliminates three of The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication I wrote about in the eponymous white paper report (available free at www.HowToImproveLeadershipCommunication.com).
Too many organizational leaders take too long to address issues, respond to questions, and suggestions from their team members, peers, superiors, etc. This is procrastination. It is unprofessional, offers an air of incompetence in decision making and damages respect and trust.
The best leaders address issues promptly.
Even better leaders address issues promptly and directly to the individuals to whom they need to be addressed to. They confront issues head on at the source. Because of a lack of positive influencing communication skills, less adept leaders fall into the procrastination pattern for fear of confrontation, or practice an even more trust and respect damaging practice of addressing issues generically in team meetings that should be more directly delivered one-on-one to individual perpetrators.
They fear the confrontation often because they have experienced previous attempts escalating into conflict or negative interactions, which have caused defensiveness, hurt feelings and resentments.
Much of this can be due to the leader’s inability to address confrontational conversations in a respectful manner. This again, reverts back to a leader’s skill level in positive influencing communication skills.
Champion level leaders have the communication skills to do all three extremely well. They address issues promptly, directly and respectfully and get the results they need while, most importantly, building a team culture of mutual respect with high levels of trust leading to high levels of performance.
3) Create a Forum/Outlet for Two-Way Communication and a Feedback Loop
Communication is always among the top three issues or problems identified by employees in organizations. The challenge with this generic, vanilla statement is that there are too many aspects of communication to fix the problems.
It must be more clearly defined.
In a recent client project three different teams in one focus group identified communication as an organizational problem. Yet, each defined it differently from a completely different context.
One simple way to resolve this issue is to create a formal forum for communication that includes a two-way feedback loop.
This sounds much more complicated than it really is. It simply means that regular, structured meetings are facilitated to bring issues, problems, ideas and suggestions to the fore for company leaders to address and respond to.
There are four key steps for doing this successfully:
1) Schedule meetings at regular and consistent times
2) Invite a cross section of participants representing the various departments, divisions, etc.
3) Collect ideas, chunk them into related categories and prioritize
4) Create a system through which company leaders can respond to every item in a reasonably timely manner.
Often company leaders are leery of developing this type of communication process for fear of the meetings devolving into gripe sessions. These fears are valid and can be eliminated by doing these three things:
1) Setting clear guidelines at the outset,
2) Ensure that all ideas and suggestions are articulated in a positive, constructive manner, and
3) Following through with prompt feedback on all ideas so that those contributing feel as if their contributions were taken under consideration and were valued (it is perfectly okay to say “no” to an idea as long as it comes with a credible reason).
Organizational leaders that have chosen to consistently implement the three above suggestions have been able to generate dramatic results, such as:
• $900,000 in waste eliminated within 12 months of implementation
• 300% increase in pre-tax profits over a five-year period
• 100% increase in pre-tax profits within four months of implementation
• 65% permanent improvement in workflow processes and 22% waste reduction within 12 months.
• 800% improvement in sustained workflow processes and a 29% decrease in annual operating expenses
With results like that no business leader in Western civilization can argue that they can’t invest the time, energy and resources to learn how to implement these three simple leadership communication strategies of champion leaders outlined above.
If you’d like to learn more join me on for a FREE Teleclass on November 17th titled:
“3 Simple Secrets to Increase to Your Bottom Line: How Maximizing Motivation, Trust & Commitment in Your Workplace Makes the Difference in Today’s Challenging Economy!“
Or, if you’d like more specific and direct help to improve your approach to leadership communication to transform motivation, morale and performance in your organization, feel free to schedule a private, one-on-one strategy session. To get your private, one-on-one private, strategy session go here
’til next time, make it a great week!