Using effective communication to navigate change
Consistent communication makes it easier to navigate turbulent times when they arise.
Even though we all understand change is a constant part of life and business, there has been a surplus of it (paired with uncertainty) lately. As you have probably noticed, the companies that weather the storms of change effectively know how to communicate, adapt and provide value at the highest level, both internally and to their clients.
Communication is a topic that gets talked about in a broad scope in our industry, but is seldom broken down into how critically important effective messaging and connection is to our overall success, not just during times of change. In fact, consistent communication — inside and outside the walls of your company — makes it much easier to navigate turbulent times when they arise.
As daily leaders and managers, we must first gain clarity about the importance of being in alignment in the company and undoubtedly understand the impact of our actions (or lack thereof) regarding effective communication. I almost hesitate to use the term effective communication because it feels somewhat overused and doesn’t have a clear emotional meaning. However, nothing is further from the truth when it comes to the reality of leading a profitable company, since communication truly forms the basis of all relationships.
Since I believe we are all in the “people business,” though our offerings vary from company to company, relationship-building strength is a large indicator of our success. These relationships begin at the leadership level, and then continue throughout the entire organization regardless of business size. How well we communicate as leaders also reveals itself in the field when our technicians are interacting with clients, selling our products and services.
The line between success and struggle
Have you ever wondered why one company struggles to make payroll and keep the ship afloat while a competitor in the exact same market and exact same industry has profits comparable to those of a national role model-type company? There are certainly many factors that come into play, but I can guarantee that the level of effective communication has a great deal to do with the degree of success that company’s experience! However, because it is somewhat difficult to quantify exactly how profits are tied to communication, we don’t often focus on this key factor as much as we could.
Every time we start working with a new client, we always uncover opportunities to improve communication. I can’t stress enough how important this is for you as a leader; it all begins and ends with who is “driving the bus.” Taking responsibility for your own communication skills and training frontline team members to improve their personal communication is one of our biggest responsibilities we have as leaders. Although crucial to an organization’s success, this topic doesn’t tend to be a conventional point of leadership focus.
At The Blue Collar Success Group, we spend a massive amount of time training frontline team members on the sales process (on a live, yet virtual level recently). We invest a lot of time and energy helping selling technicians understand the importance of communicating effectively, educating customers and generating above average outcomes. We know this approach works from the great results our clients derive from our process. A few years ago, I released an online technician training video about how technicians can actually turn good communication skills into sales and profit for the company. However, if the leader of a business isn’t focused on how communication translates into profits, the frontline team members tend to feel alone and that they are lacking the support they need.
I owned a service business for more than 20 years. I built it to the point where I could be a remote owner while I was speaking and training around the world, but it was still imperative that I facilitated very strong communication with my leadership team back home. If I failed to communicate well with them, it became very easy for them not to bring their best to the frontline team members and clients.
Always a work in progress
As I’m sure you’re aware, effective communication is a process and needs to be continuously worked on. It doesn’t happen on its own. It takes time, commitment and practice. Be easy with yourself and your team as you begin to focus on this critical piece of leadership. We all have built-in conditioned responses regarding communication and it’s very common to hit some stumbling blocks as you begin to evolve in this area.
Especially during times of change, here are a few specific things to think about:
- Don’t just communicate; over-communicate, and be very specific with explanations;
- Have empathy for people’s situations (their fears are real to them); and
- People are looking for leadership, so convey confidence and be an action-taker.
When our coaching clients implement effective communication training and strategies, really great things begin to happen. People become better leaders regardless of position or job title. Your team becomes far better positioned to keep tasks organized and strategically arranged. Suddenly, team members have a greater understanding of why we do what we do. When your frontline can easily connect the dots regarding your strategies, systems and purpose, profits begin to soar. Not only are profits seriously impacted, but it’s also a lot more fun to come to work every day. I believe life is way too short to lack passion and enjoyment in our closest relationships.
When leaders exemplify great communication, motivation is actually promoted throughout the team. It can also have a positive impact on individual attitudes. An informed individual who has been given the necessary facts and skills will have a better attitude and work ethic than an uninformed individual. Most of us can recall situations in our work history where a boss didn’t tell us the truth or failed to include us in the bigger picture. Think about how that circumstance felt to you at the time. Now that you’re a leader, how are you preventing that from happening to your team members, as well as keeping them engaged in the direction of the company?
Pay attention to how you are communicating within your company, handle any situations that need attention and start to drive positive behavior changes. Remember, effective communication starts with a company’s leadership and affects every aspect of the business, including (if not most importantly) your sales and profitability.
Especially during times of change and uncertainty, the more you explain and communicate, the more you eradicate fear for your team members and clients. With everything you say and do, make sure it reminds people why they love your company and choose to work for you or do business with you.
Share your vision, explain the “why” behind actions, and be the authentic company that people want to stick with, regardless of circumstance.