The book and multimedia package we published called Streetwise Managing People identifies three key communications for business success.
Everyone knows the three rules of real estate: location, location, location!
In business, the three rules of success are: communication, communication, communication!
- Communication with employees
- Communication with executive team
- Communication with customers
A company needs to communicate all aspects of its business to all of the participating members.
1. Communicating with Employees
Communicating well with employees is a challenge in many organizations. The common feeling is: we hire them; they do what we want. Well, maybe to a point. Sometimes you don’t know what you want, or maybe what you want is not really the best thing for the business. You must begin to encourage, support, and embrace communication with, to, and from your employees, who have the greatest knowledge of what is really happening.
When you listen to the employees you will learn more than you ever imagined. When you listen, and when you communicate your understanding of what they have told you, they will see that they are recognized as valuable partners in the business.
Your simple act of listening and communicating back to your employees will bring you more highly motivated employees as well as employees who will begin to think more creatively and more strategically.
2. Communicating with Your Executive Team
Communicating with your executive team is critical for ensuring that they articulate and communicate the company’s message and values to the employees. It is with your executive team that you develop your communication strategies and policy statements. When you clearly communicate your vision to your executive team and when they are able to understand and espouse your message, you are well on your way to a successful company.
Now that your entire team shares a common language, the team can and will speak with one voice. It is very important for customers and for all employees to hear the same words and meaning coming from all the members of the executive team.
An important component of communicating with your executive team is your ability to have the group reach consensus. You will depend on these key players to set policy and chart strategic directions. There will be times when you will have honest disagreements within your executive team. Your ability to foster honest dialogue and reach consensus on the best course of action will be critical to your success as a leader and to the success of your business.
You will have reached consensus when all members of your executive team have been heard through meetings that are frank and honest. The dialogues must allow for all views to be presented and considered and all available information shared among all the members. All members of the executive team should feel as though they own the team’s decision, and all members must agree to support the decision even if it is not exactly what a specific member wanted.
It is challenging for an entrepreneur to shift to managing his or her business through an executive team.
One of the keys to being successful in this transition is taking the time to get your executive team totally on board before you make significant decisions. Even if you can’t get a consensus, you want to at least give members of your team a chance to express their viewpoint before you finalize key decisions and announce them. Do I do this well or easily? Of course not. I’m an entrepreneur. But I try, and so should you.
3. Communicating with Customers
Communicating is the ultimate challenge. The successful manager is able to serve as a positive role model for employees to learn how they can best deal with customers, both internal and external.
Many times managers fail to recognize their roles as coaches in the professional development of employees. Managers who are skilled at communicating with customers will, in most cases, be equally skilled at communicating with employees. Communicating with customers is an extension of good employee communication. The same habits and skills used in employee communication are needed to successfully communicate with customers. Companies that communicate with customers by listening to the customers are the most successful businesses. Customers have very simple needs. They want what they want when they want it.
When a business listens to the customer as part of the communication cycle, it is guaranteed success. When a business listens to what it thinks the customer is saying, it is gambling with success. The successful business is able to clearly understand the needs and expectations of the customer.
I have found that one of the very best ways to communicate with customers is to get them involved early on in the process of developing new products. If you get key customers to suggest a new product or give you ideas on how to improve it, the product is more likely to suit their needs.
And if customers are part of the process they will feel some kind of “ownership,” and hence be more likely to support the product. And you are going to enhance and tighten your relationship with these customers down the road.
Takeaways You Can Use
- Listen to your employees.
- Get customers involved in the process of developing new products.
- Communicating your vision to your executive team is vital.
- Get your team on board with major decisions, or at least make sure everyone feels heard.