Effective Communication and Process – The Key to Long-term Success

Effective Communication and Process – The Key to Long-term Success

Many otherwise successful firms do not reach their full potential because it’s taken for granted that interpersonal communication happens well. However, good communication doesn’t just “happen”, and as a result, there is often confusion about what needs to get done and when. The obstacles that many firms encounter typically result from breakdowns in organizational communication and process.

Communication style is heavily rooted in behavior style and thus this is the requisite “first stop” on the road to enhanced corporate health. This reflects both differences in behavior style and adult learning preferences. In working with many clients on communication issues, we’ve also seen a correlation of behavior style with learning preferences. For instance, in our experience high “I”s (Influencers) such as salespeople usually learn best through visual medium, while dominant “C”s (Compliance) personalities such as (no surprise here) compliance managers or accountants need to have a lot of data, and typically in written form. A variety of tools exist for assessing behavior style. The Collaborative uses DISC as we believe it offers the most actionable feedback. Learning preferences are easier to determine—start by just asking people how they learn best!

A common lament that we hear from staff personnel is “We don’t know what’s going on”. Meanwhile, management is saying, “All we do is communicate and push information out.” This disconnect comes from our tendency to think that the way we like to be communicated with is the way everyone does. A person’s understanding of his or her behavior style and learning preferences, followed by the working group learning each other’s, obviates many of these problems.

The mechanics of communication is the second building block. This involves the quality of writing, the technology used and the process of delivery. Unfortunately, many people simply don’t know how to write or present well, and then exacerbate the problem by using the wrong medium for conveying information. For instance, conveying important information solely by email versus other modes of communication runs a high risk of causing confusion, surprise and irritation to recipients. Many writing and general communication assessment programs exist to yield insights into adult learning preferences—written, verbal, experiential, etc.—and will indicate where the technology and process of communication delivery can be improved.

The final area to review is how well the firm plans for action—and delivers on the plan. The end-result of poor communication is that things get done poorly, late, or not at all. This results from ill or un-defined actions, unclear accountabilities, unassigned due-dates and a broken organizational design that—even if communication were perfect—would thwart any hope for success in delivery. Planning well is simple but often not done. Simply put, it’s:

  • Defining each project
  • Defining individual steps—in order if possible—to accomplish project goals
  • Identifying accountable people and timeframes
  • Planning for obstacles

And—back to behavior styles again—this involves combining all of the styles and approaches, and leveraging each style to its best advantage. This ensures that the project team will possess a combination of planning and ability to respond to deliver on the plan.

All three of these areas are critical to organizational success—and doing them well separates the great firms from the also-rans. Building your firm on the “rock” of excellent communication and process is key to becoming an excellent firm.