Communicate, Communicate! Communicate
During my work on various business transformation projects involving learning and change, I found the following factors contribute to successful communication:
When messages are consistent, the communication provides clarity - the communication should provide the same message - similar sets of ideas ie, what the message is, set up a time-frame for when the communication will occur (eg Fortnightly, weekly, etc) and have a clear purpose/ reason for the communication. Consideration should be given as to which delivery medium best suits the purpose. For example;
Face to Face - it is easier to communicate your passion and how you feel via open meetings. Using this forum, they will not only hear what you are saying, they will also see and feel it. This approach still remains one of the best approaches to communicate effectively with a team.
Email - Be able to provide information to a large number of people without taking them away from their day-to-day activities.
There is a fine balance to how often the communication should be provided. When there is too little information, this can result in disengagement, 'Chinese whispers' causing speculation and assumption rather than logic and facts. When change is involved, there is usually some resistance to change because the change is usually not one that has been chosen en masse, rather, it is change that is being driven upon the recipients. It is important to engage participants and bring them on a journey with communication reinforcing the change, utilising existing communication channels to help embed it into the 'new way' of doing things. This helps bring your recipients towards acceptance. It is important to have key people demonstrating positive behaviour towards the change as champions across the organisation. It is also imperative to provide feedback channels so that any concerns can be raised and addressed.
The communication should also be delivered at the right time to assist in preventing misunderstanding and assumptions occurring. It helps to address any issues as they occur. The communication should be timed to overcome any challenges and to preempt any issues so they can be addressed sooner rather than later or not at all. If there is too much communication, it becomes information overload resulting in recipients being bombarded with information which may make it difficult to know what is important and what they need to pay attention to. This may result in future communication being ignored or confusion regarding messages being sent.
Keeping messages concise is important - especially when there is frequent communication as most people don't have time to read long emails or pay attention when the duration for face-to-face communication exceeds 20 minutes. Ensure communication includes only the necessary information that is best suited for the medium chosen delivering the communication.
To avoid confusion, having correct and accurate information is important to ensure the first three factors discussed above, contributes to effective communication. when communication is inaccurate, it reduces the credibility of any future communication - this may contribute to it being more difficult to push for the required change or deliver projects successfully.