All leaders need to communicate well, both with their teams and with other staff across their organisations. However, it is a common misconception that communicating effectively simply means communicating more: increasing the volume of our messages to anyone and everyone. We need to keep in mind that sending out a barrage of emails to staff at all hours, or scheduling endless face-to-face meetings, can be counterproductive and consume a great deal of your valuable time as a leader. So how to communicate better without communicating constantly?
The answer is to think outside the box. The most effective leaders take an innovative approach to communication, using the channels and mechanisms at their disposal to engage with different audiences. Here are a few ideas:
Get tech-savvy: Podcasts, vodcasts, Youtube clips and teleconferencing are all changing the landscape of organisational communication. For the spotlight-shy, media coaching can help you feel more at home in front of a camera. These tools can be particularly useful if you want to reach staff working from remote locations, spread across multiple sites, or who spend a lot of time on the road.
Open your door…at specific times: A 24-hour open door policy sounds great in theory, but can be unworkable in reality. Try setting aside an hour or two per week in which team members can come to you with any issue they wish to discuss. You could schedule these discussions in five- or ten-minute slots and ask staff to book in ahead of time. Remember, once you have set up an arrangement like this it is very important to consistently make it happen, to show staff that you respect their time as much as you expect them to respect yours.
Use the tools at your disposal: Most organisations have a number of channels set up to enable communication between, and within, teams. However, these are not often leveraged to their full potential. Staff intranets, online forums, noticeboards (online or offline) and newsletters are a few of the tools you may have at your fingertips. These can be a great way to reach people – but will only be effective if leaders across the organisation actively promote and engage with these tools.
The bottom line is that good communication uses the right channels for the right audience at the right time. This means thinking carefully about how you facilitate meaningful two-way communication, rather than simply ramping up the volume of your messaging.