I have found that ineffective communication is a significant challenge facing most organisations, firms and businesses. This applies to both external and internal communication. Management teams consider the combination of ‘Effective Delegation’, ‘Giving Instructions’ and ‘How to be Assertive’ particularly helpful. We often combine these topics into a one-day workshop. Where this training is held ‘in house’ for a specific group, I always provide a ‘report back’ meeting afterwards to explore the benefits and make sure the primary clients are happy with the outcomes . We also look at what is being done internally to keep the learning alive.
Today I met with the senior partner of an accounting firm where I had recently run this workshop. Participants were the directors and senior management team. The training had been a great success and we discussed ways of constantly re-enforcing the new competencies of participants so as to sustain the learning and help it to become part of the culture of the firm.
In this case we decided to remind participants in their newsletter. Another way would be to take one question a week, get everyone in the firm emphasising that point and have a report back at the end of each week. This would create consciousness of various aspects of communication and provide a simple, sustainable programme. The questions we developed (as reminders) would be relevant to any management team. We also kept theses random questions broader than just the topics covered in the workshop.
- When delegating, what have you done to match the requirements of the assignment with the needs, wants and aspirations of the person to whom you are delegating? (We appreciate that there is not always the luxury of being able to invite the right person for the job!).
- What else have you done to increase the chances of success when delegating? How else could you empower others? We want people to be winners and not losers. Success builds success!
- Where relevant, how have you gone about making sure your delegation is perceived as an ‘invitation’ and not a command?
- In all communication, what are you doing right now to close the gap between the sender’s intention and the recipient’s perception of your message?
- When some-one agrees to do what you have asked them to do, what steps are you taking to make sure that they have accepted the assignment in the way in which you intended?
- How careful are you being in clarifying time-frames? ‘Please bring me the information soon’ might be intended as ‘in the next two days’ whereas the other person may consider ‘soon’ to be ‘in the next month’. Another area of confusion may arise when we say we’ll do it ‘just now’. To South Africans it means that we’ll do it when we have completed what we are currently engaged in. Americans would be annoyed that we are not following through on our ‘promise’. To them ‘just now’ is interpreted as ‘immediately’.
- What are you doing to make sure you are sending messages in the way that recipients are most likely to be receptive? For example, some people check their SMS’s on an ongoing basis. Some will respond immediately to e-mails. I had an excellent example today. We were going through Linked-In considering additional people I should possibly ‘invite’ to connect with me. Considering a certain person, I made a comment, ‘Oh, he doesn’t ever respond to e-mails’, implying that it might be a waste of time inviting him to ‘link’. But because he is an interesting ‘connection’ we sent an invitation. Candice who does a great job assisting me drew my attention to the fact that he had accepted within minutes! So, he is far more receptive to Linked-In than to e-mails! Aha! Now I know how to communicate effectively with him in the future.
- In which ways are you checking to ensure that you have mentioned resources that can possibly be used? Does the person know what they can use your staff to assist them? Can they use the company vehicle? Does the task need to be done during work hours? If not, will they be compensated for ‘over-time’? What else are you assuming that they understand?
- What tacit knowledge should you be sharing? By building relationships and dealing with people over time, we build up knowledge that is not articulated, not written down. So, if some-one else takes over a job from us, what information would help them? For example, we may have built up a strong relationship with a client and know that when working on his premises, he prefers the team not to arrive before 9am. A new team would benefit from being told this. What unwritten information should you be sharing?
- When walking up to a group, be careful that you are ‘inclusive’ in your conversation. You can’t always include everyone. But make sure that you are not excluding anyone. I went to a Women’s Day breakfast function and was standing chatting to a friend. A person whom I know but had not yet seen that day walked up and joined us. However, she greeted and chatted to the person next to me, the person whom I’d been engaged in conversation with. This conversation continued for a few minutes with her ignoring me the whole time. Besides my considering her behaviour to be extremely rude, an opportunity for building relationships was lost. She could so easily have greeted me as well and even if talking to the other person, looked at me and made me feel included.
These are some examples of areas where communication can be improved. What other areas should your staff be working on to ensure that internal and external communication is of the highest possible standard?
For more information on this or any other training programmes which we present, please contact Brenda Eckstein on +27 82 4993311 or email@example.com
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