3 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself to Improve Your Communication
In 2020 a Gallup poll found only 13% of employees believe that the leadership of their company effectively communicates with their organization. The difficulty of communicating effectively is a universal challenge across almost every industry and all sizes of organization. Core values and vision mean very little if they are not clear, applied or at the least; communicated. How are your communication skills and how can you improve them?
Habakkuk 2:2 says “Write down the vision, inscribe it clearly on tablets, So that one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hurries toward the goal and it will not fail.” There are some great takeaways from this verse about communication. The 3 areas that I have had to work on regarding my communication are:
Clarity: Is what you are communicating clear?
The clarity that is often missing where multiple people work together are: who, what and when? Practically at the end of any meeting, I have developed the practice of quickly reviewing any action items, who will be responsible, what needs to be accomplished and when it is needed by. This simple re-cap eliminates ambiguity, creates accountability and allows everyone to get on the same page efficiently and effectively. I have heard the example of: 3 people being asked to feed the dog this week. The statement is full of ambiguity, the outcomes could be vastly different. Outcome one, the dog never gets fed because everyone assumes someone else is going to do it. Outcome two, the dog eats way too much food and Outcome 3 the dog lives feast and famine as there is no pattern to the action. A simple way to communicate this would be “Tom feed the dog one cup of kibble everyday at 3pm.” Clarity is king.
Simplicity: How simple can we make it?
The ability to communicate simply is a cultivated gift. Over complicated and wordy instructions can cause confusion, delay and frustration. When something needs to be interpreted it runs the risk of not being executed correctly. Before you send out a memo or email, run it by someone else and ask if it is clear. Allow a moment for questions in your staff meeting so that any grey areas can be dealt with. Effective communication gets the job done, don’t convolute the message by trying to demonstrate your deeper intelligence or exceptional knowledge. The point is that someone else “can run with it.” These are small things that help you move towards simplifying the message.
Priority: Have we communicated its importance?
Habakkuk refers to the “appointed time.” Everything we communicate operates within a timeline. Somethings require immediate attention, others can afford multiple phases. As a leader, part of your responsibility is to prioritize tasks with your people. Add deadlines to your requests, they set the pace for projects and without a deadline, things rarely get finished when they are due. They provide valuable information that dictate what tasks will be accomplished. As a manager or leader, you will typically have a better perspective than your employee and thus a better grasp on the timing that things need to be done. They may not have access to your insight and it is your role as an oversight to clearly communicate how to prioritize their tasks.