Call it what you want, but when we encourage: non-mutual communication, an over-bearing instead of constructively engaging and two way thought influencing process, communication wherein the more senior person controls the ‘ideation and sharing’ space – communication stops to be impactful.
We ought to be very clear from the start; leaders that fail to communicate-with-impact, create dysfunction in business value chains and ultimately wipe away significant value from the organisation’s bottom line. We haven’t quantified the loss, both regarding profit for the private business entity or impact for the non-profit, but it’s enormous.
The people management naysayers must be wondering how simple communication faux pas with the rank and file at an organisation can affect value creation. Well, it doesn’t only affect value creation, but also, the various positive manifestations of the other three OV’s – Leadership, Strategy, and Design.
We have shared before that, unlike strategy, leadership, and design, matters related to the People OV like communicating-with-impact don’t immediately undermine value creation. The negative impact of the vice accumulates over time, off the radar for many of those in leadership. However, because lousy communication doesn’t immediately impact organisations, does not equate to it not being a threat to their viability.
Bad communication habits and the impact on the People OV
Let us, albeit briefly, delve into the dynamics and implications of bad communication on the people OV.
Usually, one-sided communication doesn’t affect the leadership OV, as leaders are the ones communicating without impact or are too far away from those affected by the vice, to notice that it’s taking place. The vice won’t also directly affect the strategy OV as strategy execution is driven by the leader, significantly aided by the rank and file at the organisation. Bad communication won’t also affect the design OV – as design is the creation of the people at the organisation.
The OV that is immediately compromised by the effects of bad communication, gradually wiping away the organisation’s wealth, is People. It is apparent that when we don’t communicate with impact, it’s the individuals in the organisation that carry the burden of such behaviour.
People are the cross-cutting thread in all the discourse on the people OV and in this case, communicating-with-impact. Afterall, people aid the leader to think and execute strategy, plus, they operationalise the design that delivers the strategy.
Communication dynamics and the impact on the individual/team
Human beings are created with an individual tolerance for what takes away from them the feel-good factor. The Effectiveness lab calls this the individual’s EQ elasticity. While we are all born with EQ elasticity, some people have more extensive EQ elasticity margins than the others. Individual perceptions and images are created from what that individual sees and hears.
Tone, body language, sincerity, emotion are communication-hygiene factors. Communication-hygiene-factors influence an individual’s communication-perception. They determine the extent to which communication can be classified as hygienic or unhygienic. It’s a given that when communication is unhygienic, it’s also not impactful.
When people encounter unfavourable communication-hygiene factors, they see some distortions. It’s akin to an unclear professional or work-ethic conscience. Human nature considers this distortion a threat of some sort. When the brain perceives a threat, the hormone cortisol is emitted. This hormone drives stress in humans. When humans (the normal ones) feel stressed and threatened, their attention shifts to the stress factor or the threat.
It’s at this point that people disengage from the brand. For many people, all this happens subconsciously. Those that are affected may not be able to explain when and how the brand disengagement occurred. The human tendency is to shift attention towards the threat, in this case, the person that is not communicating well. Affected individuals get distracted from the actual work they were hired to do.
Many of our readers may have encountered situations where employees come to work and spend a chunk of their time discussing individuals that they consider threats. Read: individuals that take the feel-good factor away from other people, etc. It’s all unproductive stuff.
When organisations don’t emphasise communicating-with-impact as a work or leadership value, they ‘leak’ value and subsequently, money or impact.
By the way, communicating with impact is not appeasing the rank and file.
What should leaders do to communicate-with-impact?
- Match messages to the hearts and minds of those that you are communicating with
- Ensure clear and concise communication about what you need from the other party, and more often than not, why. The success of your vision and mission boils down to this clarity
- Repeat yourself as many times as needed
- However, in repeating yourself, don’t get yourself into a situation where you talk more and more while saying less and less
- Be honest and sincere in communication, for others to embrace the message you are putting across
- Perhaps this may come as a surprise for some readers. Non-verbal cues speak louder than words; clearly, when leaders communicate, they should ensure that the body language that the ‘communicatee’ sees matches their spoken message. Apparently:
i) 55% of face-to-face communication comes from body language
ii) 38% of face-to-face communication comes from voice
iii) And, …. only 7% of face-to-face communication comes from the actual words used
- Study the ‘communicatee’ upfront
- Communication is a two way, perhaps three-way process – as much as possible, allow the other side to put its views on the table
So why does communicating-with-impact continue to be at the bottom of the C-suite priority list at many organisations?
We hope that after reading communicating-with-impact series (1) & (2), you now appreciate that communicating-with-impact creates for your staff, the ever elusive T.L.C, motivation, brand affection and increased productivity