“What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”
You might remember this quote from the movie Cool Hand Luke. While it’s one of the most popular and often-quoted lines in movie history — and it might even make you smile — there’s nothing funny about a lack of communication within your organization. As a leader, it is your responsibility to intentionally and deliberately create a team culture where there is consistent communication at all times.
Communication is the grease that keeps the gears of your company moving, and without it team members feel detached and insecure. When they feel like they’re being left out, they can start to feel like they aren’t involved in a worthwhile venture. Just as bad, they begin to question their value to the company.
With that in mind, here are five practical steps you can take to create a culture of good communication within your business:
- Avoid “mushroom communication” – People want to know what is going on and why things are happening, even when situations are going badly. Still, many leaders use what I call mushroom communication. This means they leave their team in the dark, and feed them manure. Bad idea!
- Overcommunicate – When it doubt, share more!
- Establish predetermined goals – Make sure your team understands goals and expectations laid out by leadership. Accountability is a great motivator, so put things in writing and require regular reports of their progress. Remember, a culture of uncertainty creates fear. And fear develops quickly when good communication is missing.
- Foster unity – A team isn’t a team unless it has shared goals and visions. Create a mission statement, and have everyone memorize it. Personal mission statements help ensure what you’re doing is consistent with your life and career goals.
- Practice thoughtfulness – Avoid knee-jerk reactions, and never try to communicate with your team when you’re angry or upset. Also, communicate in ways that will ensure people are educated and enlightened, not harmed or embarrassed. Remember the Golden Rule? Handle issues the way you’d want your own issues addressed. Otherwise, people will lose respect for you and question your integrity.
The greatest problem in communication is the illusion that it has been accomplished. Communication should be attempted early, often and should be an everyday requirement on all levels in the workplace!