Thoughts on an essential discipline

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Thoughts on an essential discipline

Everything I do revolves around communication, whether it’s consulting with clients on internal communication or working with people as a coach. Basically, I love what I do. I love the possibility of helping people to get it right, so they are able to engage effectively and take people with them. The role of communication is to share, connect and open up someone’s understanding so they are able to see things clearly to decide if they can engage with what’s being presented. I believe communication is the most important activity for everyone, especially organisations and therefore we need to be equipped and master it.

We can all say that we communicate and because of this we assume that we are being effective. To be fair at the base level – we all do connect with others and express ourselves in various ways, however, when it comes to engaging on a wider scale or in a targeted way, it takes more effort.

For engagement, messages need to be clear and positioned to correctly share meaning. The individual delivering or presenting this needs to have a level of gravitas and authenticity to connect with people in a genuine and impactful way. These abilities do not always come naturally, many times the perception is that it’s fine, but it’s the audience that really has the final say.

I am conscious of the vastness of the topic and have been exploring for myself the differences between how I look at it as a professional and the general use of communication. What I’ve found so far is that either way you look at it, it is something we need to learn to do and practice.

The development of engaging strategic content and its delivery through the most effective channels to reach specific audiences, is a skill. What I’ve seen in organisations is the assumption that every leader and manager should be able to get this right simply because of the position they are in, and that is not the case. Also, because it is something we all do daily within our workplaces it doesn’t always get the attention it should. And when it is broken or not working it is sometimes pushed aside as too difficult or maybe even too entrenched as a problem to be fixed.

But it can be fixed and improvements can be realised within organisations if there is a willingness to acknowledge and address it. Identifying the gaps in people’s skills and knowledge, and working closely with communication professionals or trainers to develop and improve. Good communication is achievable but it’s important to look beyond the channels – Apps or intranets – and realise that it starts with an attitude and commitment to connect with people. To be understood and to understand your audience.

Moving into this space is like turning on a light and opening up opportunities for both the communicator and the audience. It could look like…

  • The leader who decides to create and experience a culture of communication throughout the organisation, instead of just settling for a weekly email newsletter that people don’t engage with.
  • The manager who understands that he is instrumental in building trust and connection for his team and so proactively shares what the corporate headlines mean for his workforce.
  • The employee who feels empowered to share how he/she feels with the knowledge that their feedback isn’t going into a vacuum, but that their voice has been heard and valued.
  • A leadership confident about the change being introduced, that people have been included and informed with details shared along the process, and mindful of the impact of the change on people.

With a focus on improving communication it becomes possible to achieve engagement and advocacy. An awareness of what can be achieved when people receive timely and relevant information cannot be understated. Leaders or managers who are supported to become confident communicators and employees who are empowered to communicate can shift an organisation’s culture.

So, I’m sharing these thoughts to encourage an awareness that good communication is not only essential, but achievable.