If you asked your team to define the business you are in one sentence, how different their answers would be? If you were to ask your team to share the top three priorities for this quarter, ranked, will the answers be common? Try it with your team, the probability of getting the same answers is very bleak. Still, as managers, we feel that our teams are not aligned, not performing to the needs of the organization and not engaged with the goals of the team. Most times, it is because there is no clarity about those in the mind of the team member.
The effectiveness of communication is judged by the quality of understanding of the receiver. When you do this experiment with your team, it will undoubtedly emerge that there is a need for you to take charge and own communication and build a rhythm that makes this flow of understanding about the business, business priorities and requirements like the oxygen for the team.
Here are some of the three steps to help you define that rhythm:
- Clarity at the top. It is critical that the core team has sharp clarity on the mission, vision, values for the team. This cannot be reinforced enough, as this becomes the north star for the team, it provides the filter of who we are (and also of who we are not). This is not a fluffy document to be kept on the walls, but something that you want to refer to regularly as it becomes the guide for decision making.
- Taking the vision to execution. One of the challenges for the leadership team is to link the mission, vision, values script to what teams do on a daily basis. There is a need to create a roadmap for the year that links the mission, vision, values document to actually define the priorities, goals and milestones for the next 12 months. Followed by an immediate 90 day plan. Taking vision to execution is very important as this helps the team understand the connection between the destination and the journey and provides direction for everybody to align and contribute.
- Creating a rhythm of communication. When it comes to communication, there is no such a thing as “over communicating”. It is important for leaders to bring to the team the vision, mission, values and the annual & quarterly plans as many times as possible for these conversations, words, stories to be engrained in the system. I am a fan of Verne Harnish model of communication rhythm. He speaks about 4 important meetings: A daily huddle - 15 minutes of stand up meeting to cover updates, critical metrics, and roadblocks. A weekly 1-hour meeting to look at customer and employee voice, critical metrics and one strategic area. A monthly 2-hour meeting for learning and a quarterly full-day offsite focus on reviewing the annual plan and creating the next 90 day plans.
These are three simple, yet not simplistic, steps to nail your communication rhythm as a leader. To accelerate the effectiveness of communication, technology can be a great enabler. Technology not only helps disseminate the messages, it helps reinforce communication and provides an opportunity to drive a multi-directional flow of information. Using social media tools that leverage the internal network of employees and usage of mobile based apps to keep the communication loop going are some of the solutions that organizations are turning to, apart from conventional email and calendar. From broadcasting, drilling down communication and getting teams together, even if they are spread across locations, as well as, providing the power of feedback loop from employees to management.