Eliminate Barriers to Effective Communication to Reap Rewards
When I say “good communication” do you think I am talking about people being polite to each other?
Sure, that’s part of it. No one wants to collaborate with people who treat us rudely. And yet effective communication is so much more than that.
It is senior management having the confidence to allow employees to speak up about things going wrong without shooting the messenger. It is middle managers who make it safe for employees to push back – reasonably, of course – with empathy for the effort required to change. And it is employees who strive to make their greatest contribution, even when we feel we might be doing more than our share on any given day.
Why should anyone put all this effort into behaving in ways that help other people feel comfortable? Because it not only eliminates barriers to effective communication, this level of skill reduces the chances of unwarranted conflict arising. That makes it a crucial factor in managing people well, and good people management increases individual and group productivity, as well as quality levels.
Think of it as treating your employees right, demonstrating the behaviour you would like them to show toward the people who buy your products or services. Customer service expert Jeff Disend says, “How companies act toward employees largely determines how well employees will serve customers.” *
There is no sense in taking employees through customer service training – or any other type for that matter – unless we allow them to exercise the new behaviours they have learned. Without permission to integrate the changes, people just snap right back to their previous ways.
So, who goes first? In Is Silence Killing Your Company, Leslie Perlow and Stephanie Williams look at the price of silence in several different types of organizations. They assert that, “We all have the power to express ourselves and to encourage others to speak freely. … We need to be willing to take the first step ourselves – to bring differences out into the open so that they can be explored.”
Bringing differences out into the open requires the confidence that can come from having mastered basic communication and conflict resolution skills. Their lack is often a barrier to effective communication as people retreat back into the silence.
* How to Provide Excellent Service in Any Organization: A blueprint for making all of the theories work; Jeffrey E. Disend; 1991
* Is Silence Killing Your Company, Leslie Perlow and Stephanie Williams (Harvard Business Review, May 2003)
Copyright(c) 2015 Carol J. Sutton Cert.ConRes.