• All about the humanity of communication.

    All about the humanity of communication.

A numerical perspective on the benefits of effective communication

Employees feel disconnected in companies with poor communication. Why effective communication is needed in a workplace without it:

humphreys-signs40%: Employees who feel disconnected at work.

67%: Workers who do not identify with or are motivated to help the company attain its business goals and objectives.

25%: Employees who show up just to collect a paycheck. (1)

49%: Employees who feel their company is open and honest in its communication.

55%: Employees who feel that senior leadership only talks at them, but doesn’t listen to them.

51%: Employees without a channel to communicate up the corporate organizational chart. (2)

Benefits to companies that communicate better. Company that communicate effectively enjoy these statistical benefits over firms with poor communication:

30: Percent increase in market valuation. (3)

57: Percent higher in total return to share-holders than companies that communicated least effectively.

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Growing, changing companies inevitably experience breakdowns in communication; a well-founded Communication Plan overcomes these impediments

Consider these questions to better determine how well you are communicating.

  • Are your employees at all levels talking to each other?
  • Do your strategic groups know what each other is doing?

wire-pass-stream-bed

  • Is there a breakdown in communication—the information only goes so far, but from that point on, everyone makes it up as they go?
  • Is there animosity over the perception that other groups simply don’t contribute enough to the company’s success?
  • Does your staff know exactly how to proceed, or are there conflicting ideas?
  • Are expectations clear?
  • Are departments duplicating efforts while other tasks are left undone?
  • Was your communication once flawless, but now that you are growing and changing quickly, these communication channels just don’t work anymore or are filled with static?

Communication fails as a company grows and changes. As a company grows—whether through sales or acquisition—communication becomes more of a challenge. What once seemed so intuitive, now seems like such a struggle. The breakdown of communication channels is common. This is not an isolated phenomenon, but rather a pervasive issue with growth and change.

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The resulting discussion leads to continuous improvement and innovation

Successful performance means bringing together the best resources for serving future needs with a company’s capabilities, investing in the these resources, then constantly measuring and managing the results. To best bring these resources together, you must communicate effectively. And for that, you need a plan.

A Communication Plan relates the a company’s brand, image, mission, values, and goals to all employees, informing them of what the company does and for whom; the benefits wire-pass-angled-rocksit offers and the problems it solves. It describes communication channels that facilitate the exchange of information and ideas among your board, executives, management, and staff. It is a strategic discussion about the very core of a company: how it operates, what it stands for, what it delivers. This discussion must be robust enough so that everyone related to the company speaks with one voice, one mind, one purpose: a focused, clear, articulate message.

Creating and implementing a Communication Plan. One way to create and implement a Communication Plan on your behalf is by applying four communication principals: Enlighten, Convince, Motivate, and Align. These four-steps provide the framework for creating and implementing company-wide communication where everyone actively participates.

When creating a Communication Plan, address the particular challenges to communicating effectively in your company. To better evaluate poor or nonexistent internal communication, look for ways to change how you talk about problems, to truly assess and analyze these problems in a new light, and to generate new and innovative solutions.

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A thoughtful, thorough plan draws a clear map toward a shared destination

A Communication Plan defines a process for communication among all employees at all levels. It is a strategic method of getting everyone involved in the company, its growth and evolution, and ultimately its continued success.

sedona-rocksA Communication Plan is based on strategic goals, aligned and focused, and results in increased revenue and profitability, more robust innovation, and marked organizational stability. It unites everyone—directors, executives, managers, and employees—in your company toward this strategic goal with a shared purpose.

Specifically, a Communication Plan identifies:

  • The types of communication that most benefit your organization.
  • The people involved in sending, receiving, and contributing to this communication.
  • The best channels—written, audio, video, electronic, verbal, interactive, and others—for creating and transmitting this communication, and an action plan for implementing these channels. These channels allow for clear communication up and down the corporate organization chart (from directors and executives, to managers and employees, and back) and among all divisions, groups, and colleagues.
  • A time table for how often information is communicated. Regular communication is one of the many keys to success.

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Communicating effectively creates a myriad of benefits, especially increased shareholder return and higher market valuation

Effective communication performs a core corporate role, vital to your company’s financial capacity as well as to your overall success.

boundary-treeThis success encompasses many measurable factors:

  • Increased market valuation.
  • Increased shareholder value.
  • Greater connection and commitment from employees.
  • A more robust and inclusive corporate culture.
  • Proactive involvement that drives corporate change and growth.

In essence, effective communication drives business results that lead to success.

Increased market valuation. Effective communication is one of the leading indicators for financial performance. Research shows that, over the first years of this century, companies with the most effective communication attained a 30 percent increase in market valuation. This is almost 20 percent higher than companies that do not communicate effectively.

This holds true for both publicly-traded as well as privately-held companies.

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After spending an inordinate amount of time meeting three deadlines last week, I decided to cruise a bit the next morning and spend some time surfing through the social media sites in which I participate.

I started with Twitter. In the first hour, I received 206 tweets, or one every 18 seconds. I also received almost 150 updates from my LinkedIn connections, about 120 posts by my Facebook “friends,” plus drowning-in-social-mediathe activity from connections on STC’s social network, MySTC. This is on top of 34 email messages. And this doesn’t even count the discussions posted on the several LinkedIn groups to which I belong.

I tried reading them all, but I was simply overwhelmed by the volume. I realized that I could spend the entire day reading, responding, and participating.

I talked to a colleague about this. I smiled at his response. “I spent about an hour the other day reading through my Twitter stream. Lots of interesting stuff, but nothing earth shattering. I could easily waste my entire day on this and not get anything done.” As in “not get anything important done.” Now that’s drowning in social media.

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The promise of cloud computing, especially as it relates to social media, is considerable

While cloud computing is a metaphor for the Internet, its breadth and range are much more significant and ground-breaking. Cloud computing is a complex infrastructure of software, hardware, processing, and storage that is available as a service. Cloud computing offers immediate access to large numbers of view-of-molokaithe world’s most sophisticated supercomputers and their corresponding processing power, interconnected at various locations around the world, proffering speed in the tens of trillions computations per second.

All of this is available through a simple Internet connection using a standard browser. Services range from the sublime—financial analysis, medical information and diagnoses, and document creation and collaboration—to the whimsical—computer gaming. Cloud computing is comprised essentially of applications running remotely (in the clouds, so to speak) that typically reside on personal computers and local servers.

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Multidimensional interactions have altered the basic rules of communication

Social media has drastically changed how we communicate. Not too long ago, we communicated through the mail, on a land-line telephone, and in person. Today, we send text messages; leave voice messages; use instant messenger; send emails; talk through headphones, cell phones, and online video alitas-autumn-treephones; and, of course, interact through the Internet where a plethora of social media tools has redefined communication.

Such a redefinition has had an enormous effect. The entire paradigm of social media has altered the basic rules of communication, especially between business and their audiences. The one-way communication methods of the recent past—business-to-customer and business-to-business—have been replaced by a more robust multidimensional communication model. That model is collectively called social media (also referred to as Web 2.0).

The rules of social media. To communicate effectively in the social media world means understanding the new rules of the road.

People want:

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Your use of social media channels must be strategic, advancing your company’s goals and enhancing your profitability

Social media has forever altered the way we communicate. Blogs, tweets, wikis, social networks, professional networks, online news wires, RSS technology, podcasts, videocasts, and other social media tools necessitate a revised communication strategy.

antique-gas-pumpsYou can employ these social media tools for a myriad of reasons:

  • Communicating with employees and empowering their collaboration.
  • Engaging your customers and prospects to attain the results you desire.
  • Building your reputation and brand, and shaping your perception in the marketplace.
  • Influencing behavior, increasing awareness, and growing a community of supporters.

Social media is fragmented and personal, and yet is a more effective means of communicating. Information is garnered from many different sources; you are no longer in control of all the messages.

Understand the five C’s of social media. All social media share a common set of characteristics, the five C’s: conversation, contribution, collaboration, connection, and community. Through social media, people state and discuss their thoughts and opinions, their experiences and expectations, and their perspectives about your company, your employees, your products, and your services. How you engage in this dialogue fuels your social media community, toward ill will and goodwill.

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Whenever I present on social media, I am invariably asked, “Where do I find the time to regularly participate?” It’s a good question. To paraphrase Steven Covey, “I make the time.”

Still, I found keeping up with social media to be difficult at first. Over time, I’ve developed a process that works for me (most days, at least). Before I get into details, let’s back up a bit to consider the larger perspective.

making-time-for-social-mediaFirst, let’s talk rationale. Why engage at all? Two big reasons. One: social media is one of the primary uses of the Internet; it has exploded over the past few years. And two: your engagement can enrich your professional career.

Second, let’s talk strategy and answer a most relevant question in communication: Where are you going? Define the overriding goal for your social media presence, then make sure that everything conforms to this goal. For example, because I am an independent communication consultant, my goal is to be perceived as an enlightened, knowledgeable expert. I know this is a lofty goal, but it certainly gives me something to continually pursue. In that respect, George Bernard Shaw has motivated me when he wrote, “I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind.”

Now that the foundation is set, let’s talk process. I spend at most 20 minutes each morning on social media. It’s time that I can more easily fit into my schedule if I do it first.

When I open my browser, I double-click a folder I created that bookmarks my pages on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and my Toward Humanity blog. This causes each bookmark to open in its own tab. You can set up your folder anyway you want (for instance, Europeans might want their Xing page to open). I could have set my browser to open these pages on start up, but I only want to open them once, and creating the folder enables me to control when they open. Once open, I spend some time on each one.

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