Organizations that communicate clearly and effectively, both internally and externally, are much more successful than those that do not.
Let me give you a simple example of a clear communication process.
For those of you that may not be sailors, or have not watched a sailing match, racing a crewed sailboat properly requires great teamwork, and very clear communication so that each crew member can perform their task in a coordinated way to successfully complete the maneuver. The captain communicates with the entire crew prior to, and during, each step in the maneuver so all of the crew has the same information, and knows what to do and expect as the maneuver proceeds.
The communication process for a simple tacking maneuver may sound something like this:
- “Tacking in 2 minutes.”
- “Ready on the sheets. Trimmers and grinders into position.”
- “Ready to tack.” “Tacking.”
- “Speed is down – trim the sheet in.”
- “Speed good – watch the trim.”
As you can see, the captain communicated all of the information his crew needed to do their jobs, kept them informed throughout the process about the status and performance of the boat, and identified where additional action was necessary to stay on course and meet the objective.
This same type of clear communication is necessary for any organization to operate effectively and efficiently, and can take many forms, including verbal, written, formal and informal
In any organization, communications play a key role in the following areas:
- Motivation, including task information and methods, and performance standards and expectations
- Source of information for decision-making
- Molding the culture of the organization, and individual attitudes toward the company and customers
- Managing and controlling the organization
- Improving teamwork
- Establishing strong relationships with outside entities
In the absence of such communication, employees are left in the dark about their performance and that of the organization, overall performance is reduced, the culture is poor, mixed messages are sent, rumors abound, and assumptions are made, generally with bad results. Clear communication eliminates these issues and promotes a consistent flow of information through the organization to keep it moving in the same direction.
By communicating clearly, the entire organization understands the strategy, direction, expectations, performance requirements, culture, and the message that the organization wants to send to outside entities. There are generally very few surprises.
Organizations with a good communication process exhibit the following attributes:
- Strong performance at every level of the organization
- Clear level of performance expectations and standards
- Cost efficient
- Good teamwork
- Great customer service and relationships
- Good culture and understanding of direction and requirements
A good communication process includes:
- Sending a clear message about the vision strategy and direction of the organization
- Facilitating a smooth flow of information between functions to meet customer expectations and performance objectives
The leader of the organization is ultimately responsible for the communication program, and setting the tone for that process throughout the organization.
“Skill in the art of communication is crucial to a leader’s success. He can accomplish nothing unless he can communicate effectively.” – Unknown