Understanding And Adapting to Your Company’s Communication Rhythms

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On April 22, 2013

Good communication skills are among the most valuable skills you can develop for personal or business life. Good communication skills, however, involve more than simply knowing what to say—or even how to say it. Generally, there’s a right time to say something.

If you and your spouse are rushing around the house, desperately trying to get to your cars (because you’re both late for important meetings) while trying to get the kids organized and off to school—that’s probably not the time to have a serious discussion about the family budget. That kind of communication—even though it’s important—is simply out of sync with your current family rhythm.

In the same way, your company has its own unique rhythm. Your company depends on good communication, but that communication should follow a logical, predictable rhythm so that people know what kind of information to expect and when to expect it. Here are some suggestions.

Be logical. If you have certain times of the day or days of the week in your business that are extremely busy—when the phone are ringing off the hook—don’t schedule meetings or send out communiqués at those times. Your employees will be distracted, and your customers won’t be happy either.  If you’re having a meeting in which people are supposed to make status reports, don’t schedule the meetings for the day before the quarterly numbers are in. Make sure your people have time to prepare. If you’re scheduling a strategic planning meeting, don’t plan it for when key players will be out of town (holidays, spring break, summer vacation).

Be consistent. For regularly scheduled meetings, don’t start, stop, change the times, or blow off the meetings. Make sure the employees involved know that the meeting will happen each and every time. And make sure the meeting is run consistently so that important information is covered each time. The meetings can run longer or shorter (depending on what you have to cover), but they need to happen consistently.

Don’t be a slave. Some companies really need to have a daily huddle. They have enough new information daily to justify that. Other companies simply don’t need to get together that often. Discover what your company’s rhythm is and go with that. The goal is to communicate important information—not to have meetings.

Be aware of informational flow. Your executive team and each of your functional teams should set weekly meeting schedules with a designated owner.  If the functional teams meet Monday morning and then the executive team meets Monday afternoon, that allows for the proper flow of communication, because the executive team will be reacting to current data when making strategic decisions.

Be strategic.  Establish a regular meeting rhythm for your executive team’s strategic thinking sessions.  You can rotate leadership of this meeting, but it’s imperative that someone “owns” the meeting and that he or she clearly communicates the expectations (including preparation required for participants). Unprepared participants are wasting the time of others involved. To function as a team, everyone has to do his or her part.

Be “big picture” at the appropriate times. Companies need long-range, “big picture” strategic communication as well as functional updates. That’s what your quarterly and annual planning sessions are for. And in these meetings, the flow of information is the exact opposite of what it is for weekly meetings. Your executive team should meet first to map out the strategic direction and plan. Then your functional teams should meet to work out the details for making that happen.

Take some time to discover the natural communication rhythm for your company. Get the rhythm right and you’ll be rocking and rolling to beat the band.