We join organisations because we are hired to do a job. But frequently, there is more at stake. We join because we believe in the ideas the organisation talks up, we agree with the vision and values espoused. We feel we can make a difference, that our contributions matter.
When we make a conscious decision to leave, many of the things that brought us within seem to no longer apply. Whether it is the disconnect between what the organisation says it will do and what it actually does, the leadership choices we find ourselves having to support or people we can’t seem to get along with, it is also oftentimes a question of internal communication.
How are organisations communicating their ideas? How are managers supporting business strategies? How are managers working on getting support, from their teams, for the ideas they need executed?
As organisations, we frequently have to make choices about the kind of information we share both internally and with the public. Such choices affect both internal morale as well the perception our employees have about what our organisation is about and what we seek to achieve. Our choices either support and strengthen the vision and values our organisation talks about having or they lay transparent the discord between what is said and done.
What can managers do to ensure that communication is effective and supports, not hinders, our organisational objectives? The focus on action is necessary because communication is about getting key messages across in the most effective manner possible and opening up discussion. But communication must also support action because communication in itself does not create results, it works in tandem with action.
Treat people with respect and dignity
Understandably a baseline assumption we make, no one really believes that they are walking around being disrespectful and rude. But when we compartmentalise our approach and action, when we justify the means to the ends, we may find it easy to accept what we need to do to achieve certain things.
Communicating with respect and dignity means ensuring that there is enough transparency within the organisational structure, that people understand what is at stake, what direction is taken and why, what goals are prioritised as well as what challenges are faced, both internally and outwardly.
To do that, we must lay ourselves bare as organisations and as leaders, to some extent. We cannot get people truly committing to the cause and trying to resolve challenges faced if we give them trite messages and the official line. The best way organisations can achieve this is to put ourselves in the shoes of our people and understand what they may feel.
There are many ideas within – explore and embrace them
Outsourcing and contracting the help of consultants and people skilled at what they do has its advantages. As organisations, we move in the direction desired as quickly as possible. In the process however, remember that great talent lies within. Untapped potential and ideas are waiting to be discovered and to bear fruition.
Leaders do not always have to find the solutions themselves – they can look within to their people to help resolve challenges. Frequently, those at the front lines and those closest to the challenge themselves have the ability to dissect the problem better than the leaders.
To do this effectively, we as leaders need to truly support ideas within which entails us creating avenues and platforms that allow ideas to be brought forward and explored in a non-threatening manner.
Effective communication is two way communication
Good communication allows not just for the provision of information, directive and structure but the receipt of feedback, criticism and new ideas or alternatives that can potentially provide better solutions or improvements.
For people to feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves and that they are carrying out impactful work, communication needs to be open and about fostering dialogue.
Don’t just talk about but show them that failure is allowed
In recent years, there has been a flood of articles and discussion that appear to glorify failure. That said, failure is a necessary part of any success story and your people should be given the opportunity to try new things and get curious. Progress and development should be explored with the understanding that failure is a possibility in that process.
When we talk about how we accept this as a necessary part of the journey, it means this needs to be followed by our actions. We cannot penalise people for actions taken with good intent nor should we create closed off systems and procedures that do not truly support this belief.
Technology is a useful tool but it is not the answer to every problem
Our phones and devices follow us wherever we go and truth is, we feel more comfortable engaging with people on our devices than we do in face to face communication. But there is a wealth of information we miss out on when we choose to use technology to communicate when other more accessible means are present.
The little nuances, changes in tone as well as the rich tapestry of emotions conveyed through body language and voice are all missing in texting and emails. While technology has opened up vast vistas for us as individuals and organisations, we always have a choice as to when and how it can support what we do.
Talk face to face if you can, instead of emailing. It brings a deeper, richer connection. Pick up the phone and speak to someone instead of texting or emailing. Consider how much we are enslaved by technology just because it exists and not because it serves the purpose intended.
Support the notion of personal responsibility and execution
If we want people to share more deeply and candidly about things that matter, we must show them that we embrace the idea of personal responsibility. Our organisations should not just be top-down driven but collaborative efforts bound by a single unified cause. Once people understand and support the mission, they should be given the leeway to make things happen.
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