One of the more complex issues we as Humans Resources professionals work through with our organizations is effective communications. From how to articulate a mission and values statement to having difficult conversations with an individual on our teams, there are always challenges! Communication, good or bad can make or break a company’s brand, determine at what level employees will engage at work, or honestly how the work will get done.
I’ve recently been involved with an initiative around enhancing communications in the workplace called the Language of Caring. This supports the theory of when you communicate you speak first from the heart, then the head, and end with the heart. It’s an interesting concept in the workplace because often people are not comfortable speaking from what is perceived a personal place. This model really looks at how we speak to our colleagues and customers to support a culture that does care and can be clear and concise in the way that it is done.
I bring this topic up in this edition of the HR Florida Review, because I am a big believer in looking at how we can be better communicators, ensure our message is getting across effectively, concise and how we intended it be perceived. Too often do we find ourselves misinterpreting an email and we sit wondering, “What exactly did they mean?” I am certainly guilty of that myself, and will end up having to ask for some clarity from the person sending the message. This goes beyond the proper use of grammar, fragmented sentences and dangling participle. What exactly was the message trying to convey and what was the intended meaning?
When we sit down to write a policy our intention is provide guidance around certain behaviors, process or company procedures, our intent is typically very direct. If the opportunity arises where we must put a business case together to support additional funding for an FTE, we are very intentional with our purpose and what the outcomes should or will be and how this will support or enhance our organization as whole.
It is when we need to communicate with our colleagues, or relay expectations to our teams where we can stumble and not always come across clear and concise so there is no misinterpretation of the message or intent. Typically we will find that out when the expectations we thought were clear, are not being met and there is confusion in the how the work should be getting done and what the process is.
So how do we become more effective at communicating? An article in Forbes that was published several years ago is one that I often refer back to: 5 Habits of Highly Effective Communicators by Susan Tardanico. This articles explores the five key areas we should focus on as we work to ensure our message is clear and concise.
Mind the say-do gap
Your actions must align with your words. This is all about trust and your behavior must be congruent with what you say. Rule of thumb; it is better to say nothing or delay your communication until you are certain your actions will ring true.
Make the complex simple
In today’s society, we are constantly bombarded with information making it hard to hear anything that is being said. Distill complex thoughts and strategies into simple, memorable terms that colleagues and customers can grasp. Say what you mean in as few words as possible.
Find your own voice
Using language and terminology that is your own helps to ensure your values come through in your communication. Concentrate on being distinct and real because genuine speak goes a long way to help gain respect and trust.
Sitting at your computer and pushing out communications via email is the easiest way to communicate, but one-on-one, in person or group discussion shows engagement and people will feel more connected to your message.
Listen with your eyes and ears
Effective communication is a two-way exchange. Ask good questions and listen with both your ears and eyes to what is coming back to you. Most of the time astute listening and observation will tell you everything you need to know. Communication is so critical, today more than ever, and I encourage our teams to continually look at ways to improve those channels and ensure your message is clear, concise and relays the intent you intended.
HR Florida State Council President