Altering 3 Communication Goals for 2021
If there’s one thing that’s been learned, and for some the hard way, in 2020 it is that COMMUNICATION is fundamental to business success. As the way we have had to adapt to doing our communication has driven us to video on computers and phone calls to replace the face-to-face variety that was previously dominant, many people have learned new lessons about the skill and art of excellent communicating. Those lessons need to be adapted into goals for 2021.
Whether we will drift back to pre-pandemic workplace paradigms or if business management interactions are forever altered communication is always critical to success for many obvious, and some less, reasons. In assessing and training leadership we look at communication as what you are saying [doing], how information is delivered, when it is timed and how it is received. Our newly “zoomed” world certainly has some benefits. Not the least of it is flexibility, five o’clock deadlines have given way to overnight submissions and much of the “meeting culture” inefficiency has been upgraded with more necessary and direct communication. The downside includes losing valuable non-verbal input from in person conversation and often a more transactional approach to work with a sacrifice to strategic ruminations. Again, communication improvement can always be a goal, for 2021 there are some tweaks to consider as we continue in our redefined workplace realities.
New Goals Approach
Whatever your adaption and learning curves have been with a decentralized and virtual workforce there are both nuances and blatant processes to consider delivering, or weaving into other goals as part of an operational target. Here are the top three considerations:
1) Create a Virtual Water Cooler: Encourage teams to have social interactions in small groups. “Lunch With A Leader” is an example where a department or selected group is invited to a virtual water cooler where the conversation is more social and personal than business. People can suffer from the loss of socialization, especially if it is replaced by isolation. Having a non-critical 30 minute “bull” session online can replace some of the non-productive, yet important, aspects of office life. There’s return on investment when you deepen professional relationships, learn more about the challenges, struggles of your people. Make it complimentary not critical and you’ll be amazed at how much actionable business input you get when the agenda is the opposite.
2) Scrum Baby, Scrum: One of the elements of team productivity that comes to us primarily from the project and technical departments is the concept of a “Scrum.” The plan there would be for say, a web development team, to have a daily 15-minute stand-up meeting where you go around the circle and everyone gives an update on what they accomplished yesterday, what’s on the docket for today, what are user changes or needs, etc. (Plenty of info online about how to.) While many teams have weekly staff meetings or scheduled project updates having everyone in a team on a daily 15-minute Zoom or mixed meeting is a discipline that not only facilitates timely communication but also creates a structure that can keep focus from drifting as workers mix their personal and professional lives at home.
3) It’s More Than The Work: Every boss needs pay attention to team productivity. However, volume or quality of work accomplished is not always a direct indicator of success to come. It is possible that issues that are in the background today and not a problem can soon magnify and will need to be sorted as something more serious than if there was early intervention. Anyone with a staff, team, employee or even colleague should be scheduling regular web cam time that is formal but not a performance review. I call it the “Neck-up Checkup” where the main questions are more like, “What challenges are you facing working from home?” “How are you dealing with that?” “What have you learned about our company or yourself seeing it from a new perspective.” “What could our company do differently that would make an improvement to your work experience?” The actual questions matter less than communicating a sense of caring and an opportunity to listen.
The variables in the future as vaccinations avail and travel seems less dangerous no doubt will see much of our human-to-human interactions return but whatever the working situation you can count on communication skills and efforts being a defining aspect of success. In order to make our year of living dangerously translate into some positives we can take many of the communications lessons brought on by the methodology that became a new normal and affix their improvement into our goals. No company has ever said our communication with our employees was too good! Things always change, this year it has been drastic, but subtle adaptations in our communications can make fundamental improvements into what we accomplish.
©2020 MyEureka Solutions LLC. For help with your COMMUNICATION strategy or other BUSINESS THERAPY insights follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter @TomFoxTrainer, or www.myeurekasolutions.com/thoughts. My current book: Business Therapy: Ideas and Inspirations To Help Build Sales, Leadership, Management, and Personal Performance is available on Amazon.