I’ve watched two documentaries on SBS recently – the Dust Bowl and Hurricane Sandy – the Perfect Storm. Ironically, in one case there was too much water whilst in the other, there wasn’t enough. But what struck me once again are the communication skills of Americans. This wasn’t Barack Obama or Martin Luther King or JFK speaking, these were ordinary Americans relating their experiences of these natural disasters – helped in one case by the actions of man. What makes the average American so eloquent compared to his or her Australian counterpart? If you know why, I’d love to hear from you.
Last month in Victoria, we saw the resignation of Ted Baillieu who, even before the publication of the Nutt/Weston tapes and the resignation of Geoff Shaw, was languishing in the polls due, in part, to his inability to communicate with the electorate. I’m not suggesting that what you say is more important than what you do but my experience is that employees complain more about the lack of communication from management than any other single factor. This is not, perhaps, surprising as a manager’s ability to communicate is probably his or her most important asset. In my book – “Execution to Die For” – I describe “Communication” as the Central Nervous System of any organisation. Damage it and paralysis is the result.
Communication – the Nine Deadly Sins
Such is the overarching significance of Communication in The Wagon Wheel Way™ Enterprise Operating System, it does not feature directly in the Wheel’s construction (planning), operation (implementation) or maintenance (monitoring, measuring & adapting). Instead it is depicted as the grease on the axle that allows the Wagon Wheel to roll with the minimum of resistance – hence Communication – the good oil. Given that everyone recognises the significance of Communication, the question has to be raised as to why many organisations do it so poorly. Here are the most common reasons.
a) Management believes that the Plan will meet with resistance so the fewer people that know about it the better
b) Communication takes up time – lots of it, particularly if you want to communicate effectively
c) Senior management sees itself as the “thinkers” – the rest are the “doers”. Why involve the “doers” in the “thinkers” role?
d) The Planners limit their thinking to – “this is what we are going to do”. They do not consider the implications of the Plan on each of the functions in the organisation, neither do they consider whether the Plan is practical and can be adequately resourced
e) Management withholds information on the basis of the “need to know”
f) Management withholds information because information is power
g) Management is afraid to initiate communication because this will invite questions to which management does not have an answer
h) Management is fearful that the bulk of the contribution from staff will be negative so inviting communication is to invite criticism
i) Management do not appreciate the contribution that the staff at the front line of the organisation can make, particularly to the second phase of planning – “how we are going to do it”.
I can guarantee that no one reading the above will be innocent of one or more of these communication crimes and everyone will have experienced the frustrations, anger and anxiety that such omissions in communication cause – whether deliberate or otherwise.
The above list of Communication offenses is taken directly from Section 2.6 of “Execution to Die For – the Manager’s Guide to Making It Happen. This Section also discusses the two basic types of communication, what to communicate about and how some forms of communication are far more effective than others – if you want to achieve “execution to die for”. The book is available in hard or soft copy from Amazon and in hard copy from my web site http://www.planstoreality.com.au