by M. Dana Baldwin
One oft-forgotten practice which should be considered even more important during this turbulent time is communications within your company. As you might consider once you reflect on the situation within your company, people are concerned about their futures, the future of the company and generally how things are going.
There are a number of elements which you should include in your planning for your internal communications:
First: To whom are you addressing your communication? When you want to get a message across to parts or all of your company personnel, you should determine which group you are addressing, so your communication is couched in terms that are meaningful and relevant to that specific group. Generally, one doesn’t speak to engineers the same way that one addresses accounting or purchasing people. This is not because they are not all capable of absorbing your message, but rather because you want to make it as easy for them to get the points you are trying to deliver in the most effective manner for them to understand and remember.
Second: After determining how you should address each group to get the best from the interaction, you need to be very specific about the message you are trying to communicate. You need to be clear, unambiguous and direct. Do not hint at what you are trying to say, bring it out loud and clear. Be specific and don’t ramble. Don’t make excuses and don’t apologize for laying out the facts and their impacts on the company. It is important for everyone hearing your message to believe that you are being open and forthright. If they can’t trust you to be honest with them, they won’t accept the validity of your message.
Third: Be sure to take time to build your message carefully. It is imperative that you say what you need to say, and that you are very clear in what you are planning to do. Think about what the impact of your words will be on your audience. Don’t scare them if there is little reason to do so. But don’t pull your punches either. Be sure you have a clear understanding of not only what you will say, but how you will say it, as both parts of the message will be read by your audience, and if your body language and actual words are not consistent with your intent, they will perceive this, and will not trust your communication.
Fourth: Make your message one which they will remember. As stated above, clarity and consistency are vital. Be clear, be memorable to the extent appropriate to the message, and the audience will respond as well as can be expected under the circumstances. In order to get your point across, follow the old rule about speeches: Tell them what you are going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you have told them. Do all of this in terms that your audience will respond to and will remember.
Fifth: The final point to make here is that once you make a commitment to your audience, you must live up to it. If circumstances change in such a way to prevent your being able to follow through as you originally committed, you need to bring the group back together, explain what has happened that prevents your meeting your commitment, and explain to the group what the new direction is, and why it is appropriate for you to change direction.
With consistent, appropriate communications, and good follow-through, your team will appreciate your efforts to communicate effectively, and you should get better buy-in to your aims and goals, and better understanding of the reasons you have for the actions you have selected.
Dana Baldwin is a Senior Consultant with Center for Simplified Strategic Planning, Inc. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.