Perhaps there is no greater attribute of successful leaders then the effective use and management of communication. In fact, it is continually rated as one of the most valuable attributes of leaders in global organizations that navigate challenges successfully (Giles, 2015). Communication is so important that it is often the defining point of the successful completion of projects within organizations (Parker, Kunde, & Zeppetella, 2017). When done correctly, the potential for failure is far lower, so too are other pitfalls often associated with poor communication such as alienation, conflict, and wasted resources (Parker, Kunde, & Zeppetella, 2017). When it comes to organizational communication, leadership is often trying to find the appropriate balance between sharing information, communicating goals and objectives, and not bombarding workers with information overload (SHRM, 2020). This type of balance, or the act of balancing, occurs through the use of popular communication threads such as email, meetings, monthly reviews, phone calls, and even water cooler talk. The goal for effective leaders in communicating is to keep messages, regardless of platform, consistent, professional, empowering, transparent, and at a rate that can be absorbed and utilized by the workforce (SHRM, 2020).
I have personally been involved in organizations that have taken multiple approaches to communication strategies. Some have utilized communication approaches that become burdensome to employees, multiple emails, meetings every day, and constant interruptions to the workday to address some new task, idea, or purpose. I have also worked for organizations where everyone operated in a silo, not communicating with one another and constantly finding departments and teams in conflict due to a lack of clarity, understanding, and alignment with objectives. My current organization focuses on employee empowerment and stresses transparency, access to information, and an open door policy to questions, concerns, or other issues. This communication approach is based on allowing the workforce to be independent thinkers, people that can execute and act on behalf of the company because they have full insight into the organizational goals and objectives.
This communication strategy has proved to be effective in that employees feel empowered, they have a voice and can be heard, and it has improved the overall efficiency of the organization. This is because significantly less time is spent digging for details (SHRM, 2020). While this approach works, it should be noted that it requires a higher level of emotional intelligence from employees. This is due to the fact that communication, while transparent, empowering, and mutual, is not frequent or done just for the sake of communicating. This means that employees often find themselves having to reach out to leadership when they need information, additional insight, or better directives on how to complete a task. With the wrong personality types workers could find themselves isolated, inconvenienced, and out of the loop, especially if they are used to more frequent communication channels.
One way that my current organization is improving its communication plan and techniques is through the use of data and analytics. For example on Monday mornings workers gather to do a five minute debrief on what their personal goals and objectives are for the week and how they relate to organizational goals. These meetings focus on tangible metrics, such as calls booked, interviews scheduled, and candidates submitted. This addition to the communication plan can assist in building comradery amongst employees, strengthen objectives, and capitalize on the benefits of face to face meetings. In addition, I personally think it is important for leaders of organizations (to include HR) to understand what type of communicators workers are. Some people are going to be more prone to misinterpreting emails in the wrong way depending on experience, the same way that other workers might view face to face interactions as hostile. The goal for any organization and its leadership is to create a method that works on their personal strengths as a communicator, the best fit for the type of organization, and also what will fit the mold of their employees as well (SHRM, 2020).
Giles, S. (2015). The most important leadership competencies, according to leaders around the world. Harvard Business Review Digital Articles, 2-6.
Parker, D. W., Kunde, R., & Zeppetella, L. (2017). Exploring communication in project-based interventions. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 66(2), 146-179.
SHRM. (2020, October 12). Managing Organizational Communication. Retrieved from shrm.org: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/managingorganizationalcommunication.aspx