Why Relying on Reactive Communication is a Business Killer

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On October 4, 2019

Regular CommunicationPoor Communication Can Kill Your Ability to Scale Up

Most business leaders understand (to some degree) the importance of keeping the lines of communication open with employees. Your communication needs to be clear and transparent. That’s true whether it’s key leadership or the “rank and file” employees. Unfortunately, many business leaders aren’t very good when it comes to actually communicate. Instead of being proactive, they only communicate when responding to an issue or a problem. But relying on reactive communication is a scale-up killer.

Communication Needs to be a Two-Way Street

One problem with reactive communication is that it tends to be one-sided. Leadership is only involved with employees when something isn’t right. It may be intended as a rallying call to work together, but all the information comes from leadership. It doesn’t invite participation from employees. That’s not conducive to having employees offer ideas and suggestions for making the process better.

Not Communicating Regularly Communicates Something

There’s an old adage in the field of communications that says, “You can’t not communicate.” In other words, everything you do (or don’t do) sends a message. Leaders that don’t communicate regularly and proactively with employees run the risk of sending unintentional messages. Employees can be left wondering if something is wrong. They may wonder if sales are off. They may hear rumors about their jobs and wonder if those jobs are secure. And not communicating about exciting changes and plans can leave them feeling as if they really don’t matter. Any time people work together—whether it’s in a business, a sports team, or a marriage—you constantly hear how important intentional communication is. Successful marriages, successful sports teams, and successful businesses all work on communicating.

How Often Do You Need to Communicate?

The frequency—and the format—of your internal communication depends on what needs to be said. Some departments or teams meet daily for a quick (2-5 minute) stand-up meeting to address any emerging issues that could impact daily performance. These meetings can be particularly helpful when working on a key project that’s under a tight deadline. If additional information is required, make sure participants know that they need to report back at the next meeting.

Depending on how your business is structured, you may want to have short weekly meetings to set the tone for the week and address issues that could impact performance. Other meetings, such as financial meetings should probably take place at least monthly. These meetings need to take place regularly enough to allow you to make adjustments expeditiously. Some meetings can be held quarterly. Again, close meetings like this with a reminder that accurate updates will be expected at the next meeting.

Written Communication

Not all communication has to take place in meetings. Sometimes internal communications can be handled by email, corporate videos, or even posting of news on bulletin boards. But it needs to be regular and formatted in a way that employees understand it’s important. You can share good news (new developments, sales successes, awards, etc.) this way to encourage and inform employees.

Regardless of how you do it, regular, thoughtful, informative information helps remind employees that they are part of the team. And it encourages them to communicate back (make sure they have an easy and effective way to do that).

Great communication skills are just one characteristic of a great leader. How are you doing in other areas of leadership? Click on the “Assess Your Leadership” button below for a short exercise that will help you evaluate what you may need to work on if you want to scale up your business.

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