By Amita Baheti
Communication is to any organisation what blood stream is to a human body. If the blood supply stops to any part of the body, it first becomes inefficient and gradually dysfunctional. Organisations have always struggled with the challenge of communicating their vision to the last mile staff in their team. From town halls to traditional team meetings; from chain of emails to newsletters and from flipping magazines to streaming videos; organisations try every channel to communicate with their teams. The question to ask is ‘on scale of 1 to 10, how sure are you that what you wish to communicate is being understood the way you desire it to?’
“The greatest problem with communication is the assumption that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw.
As with most complex situations, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to vision communication. Here, I suggest 3 rules that will help you drill down the larger corporate vision to everyone in your team.
1. Go in this order: What. How. Why.
Once you develop your strategy, you need to direct your team towards making things happen. I suggest an approach which I call: What, How and Why.
WHAT: Communicating specific benchmarks and deadlines is important. Tell the team WHAT is that you intend to communicate in a very crisp and direct way. Telling WHAT first, prevents audience to mentally reach to conclusions that you may not even intend them to reach.
HOW: After you communicate what to achieve, give team the direction to reach the benchmark. Direction has to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Accurate, Relevant and Timed. Setting a benchmark but not breaking it down into understandable chunks of information for the team in a ‘to – do’ format may lead to great intentions but clueless actions.
WHY: Focusing on the big picture enables buy-in of your vision and supports processing in the idea. The WHY brings in the much required assertiveness and confidence to set the team in action. It is important to give them a compelling reason to believe in your vision and also for that do let them know what’s in it for them.
This will ensure that the bigger company vision is now a combined vision of its people that they can clearly see and contribute towards.
Whether communication is written or verbal, retaining it becomes a challenge. Visualising and summarising your ideas in the form of a picture or video helps in making it more effective and memorable. The more visual it is, the better is the retention of the message! Desktop wallpapers, posters and meetings are traditional ways, having a great impact. Infographics and colourful flow charts are a few more interesting and crisp ways to summarize and support your ideas. A good method to make any visual communication is to order the ideas in a logical manner. It can be a cause – effect relationship or a timeline or a graphic representation. Simple videos, sticky notes, constant reminders never fail.
3. Brand your vision!
Branding your vision statement can be an effective way to crystallise your ideas and amplify the message to everyone in the team. Just as you give an interesting name to all your marketing campaigns, give an equally nice name and branding to your internal campaigns too. The nomenclature should be such that it directly arouses the core idea in minds of the audience. Branding the vision conveys a sense of new beginning and builds an emphasis on the criticality of the whole idea.
While communication cannot be a substitute for actual performance, it definitely is the first step towards giving a direction to the entire team. A thoughtful approach to communicating with teams can help build the much needed momentum to bring everyone together for value creation.
About Amita Baheti
Amita is a potato-lover and works at Holachef. You can follow her on Twitter at @AmitaBaheti