Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Getting the employee communication mix right


Throwing a dinner party for a few of your friends? What do you think will determine that it is the best party of their lives? The wine? The five course meal? The cutlery that you delicately display. All this will probably be of some importance but you can bet that two or three of your friends will probably be able to serve better wines, have a gourmet meal catered and display sliver that outshines yours. The product is necessary but not sufficient, what will matter is who you invite to the table, the kind of atmosphere you create, and how well you ensure that your guests’ happiness are of paramount importance.

Running a business is very much like having a dinner party because the quality of employees you invite to your office spaces and the strategies you create to encourage them to stay will have a boomerang effect on your bottom line. Create passion in your employees, and watch your profits soar. Often times though what lies between the passion an employee has for his/her work and the profits that can accrue once they have that drive, is the chief executive officer. The business owner. The managing director. The boss.

"Sometimes I feel that in this company our leaders are more concerned with making themselves look good than they are with genuine straightforward human interaction,’ says one thirty-five year middle-manager when asked about what she saw were some of the company's major organisational challenges. This correlates with a survey done by the International Association of Business Communicators whose audit of American companies discovered that:
10% of employees felt that executives were aware of their concerns
15% agreed that head office communicated effectively
19% agreed that executives and bosses sought their views
21% agreed that they were informed of plans and directions
23% agreed that executives communicated well

They were shabby scores but they revealed a certain truth that may be applicable globally. The way we engage employees, like we do our guests at a dinner party, has a lot to do with communications. Effective communications is about listening as much as it is about talking. It is about connection and engaging employees every day by taking them on a personal journey of ideas. Be assured that will come along if they trust you to respect them and if your journey is meaningful to them.
Business management guru Kjelle Nordstom writes that there are four ways senior managers and bosses can communicate with people: either you appeal to their Reason, Affection, Intuition or their Desire.

Reason equates with logic, affection concerns love, intuition has everything to do with insight and desire has to do with passion. Every time we communicate we should be asking: Are we using the right mix? Striking the right keys? Our answer may require us to rethink how much reason has to do with ensuring success and profits. We may discover that if we use reason only, we may be speaking to our employees in terms of pure economic rationality and creating competence without commitment. That spells bad news, primarily because we are no longer made up of local villages.
Globalisation demands that we compete with the very best and if we have employees who simply do their jobs, who turn up for work and leave when the clock strikes the appointed hour, then we pave the way for disaster as exemplified by rapid turnovers, diminishing returns and collapsed businesses.

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