“Two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange information, news, ideas and feelings but also create and share meaning. In general, communication is a means of connecting people or places. In business, it is a key function of management–an organization cannot operate without communication between levels, departments and employees.”
Communication is often teamed with marketing. While communication is certainly part of successful marketing programs it is an entity upon itself. It should be treated as an independent effort partnered with and complementing the marketing efforts.
As humans we are egocentric and believe if we craft and understand the message that message will be universally understood by our targeted audiences – ‘I know what I’m talking about so if you are smart you will understand it too.”
The old model of one-way communication from management to the employee, from the company to the customer is outdated. Processes need to be in place to allow and encourage feedback. To be successful the communication initiator needs challenging reviews to refine the message and constantly improve. The days of working for weeks and months on a message aiming for perfection is outmoded and results in missed opportunities. Today’s audience does not so much appreciate perfection as they do a nimble and responsive organization. More effort needs to be placed on the feedback and Continuous Quality Improvement.
The image below summarizes the challenges of effective communication.
I strive to reduce these blocks to get everyone on the same page.
My process begins with interviewing management and those on the front lines who work with the employees or customers. What is the goal, how willing are the people to encourage feedback and address the issues that arise? From these interviews I create a communications calendar outlining the efforts and processes for gathering feedback and sharing that information with stakeholders to improve constructive relationships.
Case Study – Eureka Community Nursery School
I was recruited to be the chairman of the Eureka Community Nursery School board even though I did not attend the hosting church or have kids that attended the Nursery School. The board had a history of meeting for more than three hours on a monthly basis for an organization that had a $60,000 annual budget and hours of phone calls following the meeting to decompress.
Once I accepted the role I personally interviewed each board member before the first meeting. I encouraged them to share their passion and frustrations assuring each one that I would address their concerns committing to the value they brought to the board.
The results were board meetings that started on time and lasted no more than one hour. I set the agenda and understood every issue before it was discussed and if additional information arose that needed additional vetting I kicked it back to committee for additional exploration. Meeting attendance and satisfaction improved. The teachers felt that had more input for the direction and management of the school and recruiting new members became easier.