From our work with partners and a data base of employee engagement survey results, we know that effective communication means different things to different people. Despite best efforts, communication can, at times, be inconsistent across different departments in an organization. However, we do know that everyone wants to receive and deliver the right message in the right way at the right time. This becomes our focus as leaders. Effective communication is one of a leader’s biggest obstacles to overcome.
HAVE YOU EVER FELT LIKE YOU WERE LEFT OUT OF THE LOOP OR MISSING INFORMATION? HAVE YOU EVER MADE A DECISION BASED ON WRONG INFORMATION?
An effective, aligned message ensures all stakeholders have accurate information in a timely manner. All stakeholders hear the same messages from their leaders which gives employees confidence and makes them feel trusted. Making employees aware of what’s going on will result in them feeling included and can connect the dots to heighten their engagement.
BECOME AN EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR
Communication can become aligned and consistent if you start with the senior team. Cascading Communication is a process that defines how all stakeholders will receive aligned and accurate information. It starts with the senior team and is cascaded down to direct reports throughout the entire organization.
For Example: When information comes from the top, the senior leadership team members cascade the message to their direct reports within 24 to 48 hours. The direct reports pass the message to their direct reports within the next 24 to 48 hours and so on.
Leaders decide together what messages will be passed down to whom, who will be responsible for passing along the message and when and how the message will be delivered.
Using cascading communication we can ensure all stakeholders will receive an aligned and accurate message, after leaders have gone to a leadership development institute, following an executive meeting, or anytime there is information to distribute or changes have been made.
CASCADE COMMUNICATION IN THREE EASY STEPS
Designate one member of the senior team to question communication that will be cascaded to the organization.
- This person is responsible for asking a series of questions after the team discusses a specific topic. These questions include: Who is responsible for communication? What are the key points to be communicated to whom? When and how should the communication take place?
- Before you move onto the next topic, make sure every question is answered and the team agrees on the answer. This is an easy way to create alignment and consistency in the messages being delivered.
Conduct an audit on when leaders are communicating.
Ask each leader to share how and when they communicate important messages with their direct reports. Surprisingly there are many inconsistencies even at the senior table. Create a list of all of the separate ways and then decide as a team the most effective way to communicate the message. This creates standardization across the organization and ensures a consistent message gets delivered.
Standardize how messages are communicated with stakeholders.
Decide as a team how and when to communicate the message. There will be little room for confusion about when or what is communicated because everyone will hear the same, consistent message.