It seems that every team of which I've been a part throughout my history in the workforce has, when prompted by leadership for improvement suggestions, collectively responded with MORE communication or BETTER communication, or both. I have held roles in all levels of organizations across several different industries that had little in common with each other... and yet, in each, the desire for exemplary information sharing has been a constant. Is there simply a longstanding universal trend toward sparse or ineffective communication on the part of leadership that permeates all industries and lines of business? Or is it one of those amorphous notions for which no amount will ever suffice and no measure of quality will ever satiate the intended receivers?
Let's instead consider communication as a two-way flow that could be improved by both the givers and the receivers with some guidelines for trust and understanding...a Communication Contract.
Why is it necessary?
You and I may hear the same piece of information in very different ways. We've each been through our own life events and make instant projections about the outcome of a situation based on our past experiences. Or the experiences of others we know. Those filters affect our judgment and can quickly get us from information intake to decision-making with very little opportunity for reasoning. In our minds, we may already be planning responses before getting clarity on the actual situation.
This response is commonly known as jumping to conclusions and it is human nature. It perpetuates anger, fear and hosts of other negative emotions... and it is often caused by communication.
But, isn't communication supposed to make us feel better? More in tune with the direction of the team and the business? Absolutely, but just like we ask for communication, perhaps without clear definition of what that means to us, leaders attempt to provide the requested communication, also without clear definition of what it means to us. The information leaders provide, in an effort to meet the goals of MORE and BETTER communication may be relevant and important to leadership, but may be offered at a different level than is appropriate for the team, or may lack context for what it means to those in the audience.
Stop right there. Step back and define, together, what communication means to you. Create a Communication Contract.
How to do it...there is no set format, however here is a good guide:
Communication is a bit more like rocket science than any of us would like to believe, and it is not a task that can be finished and checked off the list. It develops and changes over time.
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