September 1, 2017
GETTING THE MESSAGE RIGHT
For effective fact-based decision making, information must be accurate, up-to-date and as thorough as possible. Conclusions drawn from inaccurate or erroneous data can have a devastating cascading effect on the very system the decisions were meant to benefit.
If revenues are the life-blood of business, knowledge-data-information is the oxygen it breaths.
A HOUSE DIVIDED CAN NOT STAND
In most cases, by its very nature, change is going from a state of known to a state of unknown. Fear is the uncertainty of that which someone or individuals do not know. Communication gives security and sets an expectation so that certain thought processes can occur to prepare a system for what is about to occur.
Much like the colloquialism “Practice makes perfect,” going over something in one’s mind, talking something through, visualizing, looking at the situation from all angles, etc., allows people to lay down a foundation of actions and reactions in anticipation of an event.
FEAR IS A GREAT MOTIVATOR
To increase the fear factor, keep people uninformed of a situation. The side-effect of doing this is in allowing people to fill in the blanks with their own concerns that reinforce uncertainties.
However, if leaders want well-thought plans of attack, anticipated responses and better conrol of outcomes, prepare the masses. Arm them with accurate, timely, abundant (approprite for the situation), relevant, encouraging and empowering information.
Control the conversation.
The truth should not be an adversarial relationship.
If people find out leadership lied to them to get a certain action from them, the erosion of trust will cost the company in ways it may never fully understand. It is easy to make financial wins in the short term. However, to convert a devastated corrupt culture can take years or decades. Sometimes, never.
Corneille (1606-1684), French playwright, said "To win without risk is a triumph without glory." Speaking truth is as much a tool as it is an ethical behavior, and should be a cultural value.
MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE
Imagine a project that is coming off the rails, despite efforts to report issues and provide strong recommendations to correct concerns.
When management is an ideologue who selects subsets of data to report as an instrument to support a narrative that benefits the manager, it creates an agency conflict where the manager puts his or her interests above that of the project, department or organization.
Doing this allows immediate leaders to control the flow of finance to positively affect their annual bonuses, if they wanted to control the look of the project. In the meantime, morale, motivation an enthusiasm wane.
If these individuals rewrite communications of the project and strip the negatives, the information and warnings may not reach the ultimate stakeholders.
To avoid this, stakeholders must ask the correct questions, seek communication from the source and not second-hand, expose agency conflict for personal gain in opposition to the health of the company, and put in place a communication strategy with checks and balances to discourage agency conflict.
GUIDELINES FOR EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
Communicating must address company goals, a forward progression of the business and environment, personal impact to associates, value, benefit and ease of comprehension.
Remember: Communicating is for the benefit of the audience. The speaker already knows what he or she is saying, thinking and doing.
Therefore, keep the audience foremost in the mind when developing a communcation.
IMPORTANT POINTS TO INCORPORATE
Without accurate information, leaders make decisions based on non-existent, erroneous data. They allocate money, time and resources, inappropriately.