With this post, I am beginning a series of articles on leadership communications for small business owners. Being able to communicate effectively with your employees is essential to the success of your business. Behind most great companies is a great communicator. The flip side of that is that very often when things to awry, the problem can be traced back to poor communications from the leader.
Here are six reasons why mastering the art of good leadership communications is vital:
1. You need everyone to master your vision, mission, values goals and objectives. This begins by putting these things in writing, sharing them with employees and then constantly reinforcing them in your communications, both written and oral.
Don’t take it for granted that everyone knows these things; staff turnover can quickly lead to a group of employees who aren’t quite clear on what your business goals are. And even if you don’t have staff turnover, people still need to be reminded now and then of what your business is all about so they live the values through their actions.
2. People are far more likely to give their best to you if you take the time to communicate directly with them. People are not mind readers. They need to hear from you exactly what you want. Don’t give a sketchy message and assume they will be able to fill in the blanks.
3. The best way to find out what is going on inside your organization is to ask people. Active listening is an important part of effective communications. Master this skill and use it constantly as you talk with your employees. Listen as much as you talk and you will identify problems before they become dire. You’ll also identify opportunities as employees feel you’re listening and actually want to hear what their ideas.
4. Regularly talking to people “in the trenches” helps you understand what is going on outside the organization that is impacting your business. As your organization grows, you may end up further and further away from customers and clients. If this happens, make sure you’re constantly talking with front-line staffers who are talking to these people. They can give you a heads-up on trends and on customer news that might impact your business.
5. If you want a cohesive team, this is the way to build it. Good teams don’t just happen; they are built through good communications.
6. Communicating directly with people at all levels is a great way to model the company’s values and build them into the organization. For example, you can’t have a business that says it values listening to customers if you don’t model this behavior by listening to employees.
Next time in lesson 2, I’ll write about common roadblocks to good leadership communications.