What Happened to Honest Communication?
Carol Morrison | i4cp
July 30, 2010
We need to talk. Can there be any more gut-tightening phrase in our language? Just ask anyone who’s married. Or in any sort of relationship, personal or professional. Any employee summoned to his supervisor’s office with that phrase probably shows up simply because there’s no handy exit between his desk and the manager’s office door. Why do we put off honest communication – at home and at work – until it’s so long overdue that it scares the daylights out of us?
Lots of reasons, probably. Some topics just aren’t pleasant to discuss. Nobody wants to hear that they need to make changes, that they aren’t living up to expectations or that they aren’t likely to have a job if performance doesn’t improve. Even if the news is positive, communication can derail. Maybe we are so immersed in our work that we just assume others know about projects or goals or outcomes. Perhaps we just don’t know how to get ideas across constructively. There are many potential stumbling blocks.
Study after study conducted by i4cp point out the vital role that internal communication plays in achieving better business outcomes. Our High Performance Organizations study, for instance, found leaders’ communication abilities rated much higher (in high-performing companies) than they did in lower-performing firms. When we researched succession planning, participants told us that communication issues were among the top-five challenges plaguing their efforts – significantly more of a problem for lower-performing companies than for their higher-performing counterparts. Our Developing Successful Global Leaders Survey confirmed that effective oral and written communication capabilities are among the competencies organizations focus on developing in up-and-coming global leaders. Those attributes also reflect a high correlation with success in leadership development.
Fact is, you could look at nearly every survey we conduct and find some reference or inference to the role communication plays in high-performance workplaces. What that demonstrates is that communication is a foundation element of successful organizations. There’s a reason i4cp includes internal communication within the leadership domain. Savvy leaders know what a powerful tool good communication can be. These days, businesses need all the power they can muster. So take a look at the effectiveness of your organization’s communication programs. If they aren’t helping you power your company’s success, then we need to talk.