The Big ‘C’ Word: How Can We Improve Internal Communication?
An astounding 86% of execs cite ineffective communication as the main source of workplace failures[i].
So why are we so bad at communicating?
After all, communication is the cornerstone of the workplace. The countless meetings, strategies, targets and conversations which are churned out every day in our organisations could not exist or be taken forward without the crucial ‘C’ word. It’s what keeps business cogs whirring, and it’s how we make sense of what’s happening around us. And the amount of changes now happening every day in our organisations means that internal communication has never been so important in keeping everyone in the know.
We’re all capable of it; we can all communicate our thoughts and ideas, and understand those of others too. So where are we going wrong? Not only is poor communication being condemned as the primary cause of workplace failures, but it’s also affecting our ability to keep our employees hooked too – with as many as one third of employers blaming it for low retention rates[ii].
Rather than a problem with our communication skills, our ability to listen might instead be to blame. Our attention spans are really pretty bad – we only spend about 60% of our communication time actually listening[iii], and even worse, we only retain 25% of what we hear. That means over three quarters of all our communication goes unheard, unacknowledged, and unappreciated.
That’s a lot of thoughts and ideas left to disappear into the ether – and a lot of people left with very different understandings. In an organisation working towards a shared goal, everyone needs a shared understanding. Effective communication – and listening – helps to pinpoint this understanding. Perhaps we’ll have to work on re-attuning our ears, and start listening a little more effectively to those around us.
But there’s also a flaw in our general understanding of communication, which George Bernard Shaw noted: ‘the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place’. Communication is not the same as conversation – we could talk, and talk, and talk to people if we wanted to, but that doesn’t mean that any of our ideas would sink in. The person we’ve been conversing with, who may have been listening just fine, may leave without having understood or taken anything from what we said at all.
Communication isn’t just about good listening; it also means making our ideas stick with our audience. And this can’t be achieved through merely altering our own communication methods – it helps to understand how our listeners might respond to the communication too.
We’re all unique, and subsequently we all respond differently to communication. By exposing our Unconscious Motivators®, the invisible drivers behind our behaviour, PRINT® allow us to understand how we might personally respond to it, and how others may respond to it too.
For example, say you’re a manager of a small IT company informing your employees of a change to the company computer system. Your employees, being of different PRINTs, would likely react differently to the news. A PRINT® 5, whose Unconscious Motivator® is to be knowledgeable and smart, may want to know everything about the change in excruciating detail, whereas a PRINT® 2, whose Unconscious Motivator® is to be needed and appreciated, may not want a lot of detail, instead prioritising understanding how they could help with and be involved in the change.
Knowing your employees’ Unconscious Motivators® is a great way of understanding how to tailor your communication to suit their individual needs, so that they not only listen to what you’re saying, but take everything on board too. PRINT® can help you make your messages stick.
For more information on how PRINT® could benefit yourself or your organisation, email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit our website and social media (Facebook: @discoveryourprint, Twitter: @Discover_Print, LinkedIn: Print Profile Ltd) or sign up to our mailing list. If you’d like to bring PRINT’s benefits to organisations and businesses, we offer Accreditation courses enabling in-house coaches and learning & development professionals to become certified PRINT® coaches.
[i] Fierce, Inc (2011). New Study: 86 Percent of Employees Cite Lack of Collaboration for Workplace Failures [Online]. Seattle: Fierce, Inc. Available at: file:///C:/Users/User1/Downloads/20110603_fierce_Survey_VILT_Press_Release.pdf
[ii] Everett, C, (2010). Bad communication real culprit of high staff turnover. HR Zone. [Online]. Available at: http://www.hrzone.com/lead/culture/bad-communication-real-culprit-of-high-staff-turnover
[iii] Ted. 2011. 5 ways to listen better. [Online]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSohjlYQI2A