Hands-up, how many times have you heard the following statements in a business context: ‘I didn’t know they did that?’, ‘Oh, I thought they offered that service!’… or ‘I didn’t know I was supposed to do that’, ‘wasn’t that your job?’… ‘we were never told that was the plan’.
Now I ask you this: what is the central theme linking all of these statements?
Yes, you got it: communication.
You see, communication is the oft’ forgotten yet critically important conduit for generally positive outcomes in business. When you’re starting out, you need to communicate with your chosen or target customers and extract the knowledge only they can provide you about whether your product is good, or if it’s rubbish, why that is the case [more of which, see Eric Ries ‘Lean Startup‘]. Now, that’s a topic in and of itself… but you get the idea.
When we’re established, and growing – we’re constantly refining how we communicate what we offer – ensuring our messaging captures the hearts and minds of our customers. We’re also re-evaluating how we say what we say [are we sending the right message?] and to whom. Remember, customers change and needs change… Technology is continually evolving, new media emerging – this also affects how we communicate.
Communication is also centrally involved in our business relationships; I read recently that more and more businesses rely on remote communication both internally and externally. Time paucity? Possibly. Good excuse? No. You must talk, and talk to your people – be they customers, staff or stakeholders – regularly.
So, I hear you ask – that’s all fine and well – we get the why, but what about the how?
My view? Good communication starts internally. You need to know what you’re about, who that matters to and why. Values are critical. Building a team that shares your values and understands why they are what they are makes the business of communication a far simpler task.
Most importantly, building the value of communication – in and of itself – into your business’s ethos will serve to further reinforce good practice. In essence, bringing people with you is easily done by… [wait for it] communication.
Now, let’s go back to those first few statements again – and think about why they might be problematic for your organisation. Well, for one – if someone doesn’t know what you do, they’re going to have difficulty using your service or buying your products. Think about the other challenges posed… if your team don’t understand what it is they should be doing, or more importantly why they should be doing it, that’s hardly a good thing?
Communication is a crucial – and simple – art to master. Don’t make the mistake of assuming it will just happen in your organisation – set the right foundations for it and ensure it’s a key value which everyone operates by.
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