Ever work at a place that could use better communication? Why do most people chuckle when I ask that at seminars?
Better communication offers huge potential for enhanced productivity and morale, but it often remains an untapped resource.
Here’s five ways to ensure your company/organization isn’t missing out:
1- Accept its importance.
Management must place a high priority on its value and think about creating a strong culture, not applying band aid solutions.
2- Get into the Heads of Audiences.
Communication isn’t about telling your employees stuff. It’s about engagement, about learning from each other. Make clear what is in it for them.
Ask your audiences what they think, frequently, and allow them to give anonymous feedback. Share the results with them.
4- Practice Being interesting is a skill, work at it. Set benchmarks for progress.
Bill Gates once said, “The thing I do best is share my enthusiasm.” Of all his skills, he points to enthusiasm as a core business asset. You must believe in your mission, and live it. Others are noticing.
What does it take to keep a family business going for nearly 50 years? A big part of the secret is good communication.
Alpin Haus began as a little ski shop in 1964 in tiny Amsterdam, NY and is now one of the Northeast’s top outdoor recreation retailers.
Its president, Andy Heck, points to its communication culture as one of the keys to success. He spoke to a Consulting Alliance audience in Albany.
“We outfriendly the competition,” says Heck. “If you’re not outgoing and friendly you can’t work at Alpin Haus.” Employees are expected to share their enthusiasm for their products (RV’s, skis, boats, etc) with customers.
Alpin Haus has opened up staff meetings to all employees and, with the exception of the most sensitive financial data, all issues are on the table. Heck says he wants employees to “tell us what we need to hear.” The same holds true for customers with the retailer’s longstanding policy to “face a crisis head on. Don’t hide from it.”
There is evidence the approach is working. Alpin Haus has grown to more than 200 employees, won numerous Best Place to Work awards and Heck says 20 employees who once left the business for greener pastures have eventually returned.
There are other ingredients in the successful stew, such as being willing to adapt, allowing employees to make decisions on the spot and managing the obstacles well (the economy, weather, etc). They “do what it takes” to create a pleasurable experience for those who use their products.
But good communication is always a staple. Hard to argue with success.
The writer owns a company involved with message strategy and improving communication skills. Feel free to call on him for help.