3 Levers for more effective communication
According to a Watson Wyatt study, companies that communicate effectively had a 47% higher return to shareholders over a five-year period (mid-2004 to mid-2009).“Effective communications can keep employees engaged in the business and help companies retain key talent, provide consistent value to customers, and deliver superior financial performance to shareholders." The study identified 3 levers for more effective communication: Courage, Innovation and Discipline. Here is our take:
Tell it like it is. Shielding your people from bad news is akin to treating them like children; it says they are not "grown up" enough to handle the truth. So why do companies do it? Often they feel employees will lose heart and then under-perform. The study showed the opposite. Tell your people what they need to know and they will reward you with greater trust and solid performance.
Many companies are experiencing significant change in their industries. The status quo is not an option. If you wait for the future to unfold before you innovate – you will be too late. Innovation and R&D must never stop. Invite your people to participate in creative problem solving, re-thinking your business model, streamlining your activities, and continually challenging the status quo. Ask – could there be a better way?
Have a clear strategic plan – and measure your strategic plan execution progress in real time. Effective companies have strategic plans that all their people know and can easily understand. They clearly communicate their strategic position and brand promise. Sadly, many companies don’t have clear strategies, nor do they know how to effectively communicate them to their people (- is it any wonder their customers are confused?). Their people are given direction without context. They are told “what” to do but not “why”. Communicating the “why” is important if you want to fully engage your people.Leading companies are now using new technologies to measure and drive execution progress. Their people “know the score” and are able to track their own implementation progress in real time. Effective companies make progress visible, and hold people accountable for performance. Don’t just focus on what hasn’t been done yet. Take every opportunity to share good news and stories of achievement with your team. Integrating courage, innovation, and discipline into your communications will help you survive these tough times – and put you at the head of the pack when the business environment improves.
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Chief Operating Officer – Global Operations