How effective communication solves problems #1

browningyork Communication lessons, Engagement, General communication, Inspiration, Voluntary sector

I believe that effective communication solves problems by motivating people to take actions. But which problems? And which actions?

To help my readers understand where communication can support them and their organisation, I have written a series of blog posts covering different problems you can solve by communicating well. This week I am looking at the issue of getting people to follow processes.

problem solved

A well-run organisation has many processes, from how to recruit the best candidates and how to register a new service user, to the business planning process and the invoice process. The degree of flexibility within those processes will depend on who you are and what you do, how much regulation you are subject to and so on. If your people are not following the processes correctly and in a timely fashion, you can face problems such as inefficiency, non-compliance, higher-costs or even loss of income.

So how can you use effective communication to solve process problems?

Clarity. As obvious as it seems, the point of effective communication is to get a message across simply and clearly. I often find with my clients that while they are imagining all sorts of complicated reasons why people aren’t following a process, the real reason is that they simply don’t understand what it actually is. Or why they have to follow it. Making sure that your message is clear – and includes the ‘so what’ as well as the ‘what’ – is key to motivating people to take the right action.

Two-way engagement. If you want people to engage with a process, it is important that you listen to their input and feedback. The people who carry out the process will often have great ideas about how to do it or improve it. Even if there are valid reasons why their ideas cannot be implemented – such as other associated decisions they are not aware of or regulatory reasons – by genuinely listening to them, you are encouraging them to take ownership. Plus, if you are regularly asking for and listening to their feedback, you will be able to pick up any ongoing issues or upcoming challenges and address them early on.

Tailored, relevant information. By listening and engaging, you can build up a picture of what is interesting and relevant to different groups of people. If you want them to take action, they have to be interested enough to take notice when you ask them to act. And the ask needs to be relevant to their work. Without interest and relevance, your communication is just so much noise and they will ignore it, continuing with the old process.

Trusted information source. Finally, by taking notice of all these communication aspects you can establish trusted information sources – web pages, line managers, tweets, whatever works best for your organisation. Then the next time there is an update to a process or a new one is introduced, people will know where to look and will take notice of what they should do now.

How would improved communication help your people to follow processes? Get in touch if you would like to have a chat about how I can help you.

Until next time – when we’ll look at how effective communication increases productivity.
Sarah

Other articles in this series:

Solving motivation & productivity problems
Reducing silo-working
The perils of no communication
The link between fundraising and communication