What is the Appropriate Cadence For Member Communication?
Communication is critical for any organization. Most companies these days have become aware of this matter and have taken appropriate steps to ensure that employee communication happens among them. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of many, the bridge between the importance of communication and how it affects an organization is still at times overlooked.
In certain cases, such as when miscommunication happens, the contact that communication has on employees may not be recognized until it’s too late. Decreased employee morale, sick calls, and reduction in productivity among employees can happen due to miscommunications. The topic of communication has become vital that textbooks have been written about them and courses in communication are offered to management programs and conferences.
How does communication affect leadership? Leaders are the ones who are helping guide the organization towards its proper destination. In this spirit, the capability to communicate is important. Leaders who can effectively communicate with employees are likely to find themselves able to connect with their employees. The ability to connect will lead to increased teamwork, highly motivated staff, and increased job satisfaction. Ineffective communication can lead to the opposite effect.
Every employee values a leader with great communication skills. Efficient communication provides employees with the opportunity to gain accurate information about the organization. This can extend from the status of a project to the state of the business in a changing marketplace. When provided with the appropriate information, employees will be able to process it and decide how to respond. The response of the employee will influence the business operation, including successes and missed opportunities. Without any clear communications, it can be quite unclear to staff what is expected. This results in a less-than-satisfactory operation.
Depending on the organization, communications can happen in a variety of ways. The following provides some important information regarding communications. It can be quite significant and make the difference between successful and unsuccessful communication.
A communication cadence is the flow or rhythm of communication between people, in this case between a leader and their team or individuals on the team. While this rhythm may not be similar to each team member, but one does need to exist. Similar to a band that can’t remain together without a drummer making and maintaining a rhythm, without a clear plan and cadence, communication with your fellow team members will be less clear and less effective overall.
Determining the correct cadence can be done in several ways. Not every song you hear has the same tempo and not every person requires the same type of communication with you. Consider the competence and confidence of each team member along with their personal communication needs. Think about the nature of their work, and both their needs and your own.
Take the time to think this through for yourself and discuss it with them too. Ask them how often they would like to take the time to talk and ask them what they require from you to be successful. While you want to consider their input, don’t ignore their needs either. Come to an understanding and develop a plan for your communication cadence.
Formal & informal communication
Leaders can switch between using formal and informal communications to connect with employees. Formal communication may be in the form of a printed newsletter, memo, policy, or employee forum. Informal communication can be done through a simple gathering, talking after a call or socializing during downtime. The goal here is for effective communication to happen.
Content and audience
To be a proper leader, you need to consider the message of your communication. It’s important to understand the message’s content as well as who is in the audience before delivering it to the group. Determine exactly what needs to be communicated and to whom, and when. For example, in a lay-off scenario, not all employees are required to be included during the initial notification of the affected individuals. Also, consider when the message should be sent out. While life can be very busy at times, it may be most appropriate to set aside time for some messages versus trying to conduct each discussion between calls and meetings. Communications that are interrupted can lead to confusion and misunderstanding.
Who in charge of delivering the message?
In any organization, the essence of the topic will determine who delivers it. For instance, the supervisor should most often deliver a discussion involving an employee’s performance. If the employee is a part of a union, then a union steward should be involved. The size of the organization will also influence who delivers these messages. For larger organizations, daily operational updates are not necessarily required to be delivered by senior leaders. A department manager or director should be enough. If organizational restructuring is happening, the Chief or other senior executives should be more appropriate to deliver the message.
How communication takes place
When a leader communicates with employees, a system needs to be in place to allow for an ongoing follow-up. Consider building a system that allows for two-way communication. For example, depending on the size of the workforce, a regularly occurring meeting, such as a weekly or monthly update, maybe a great decision. During the meeting, all employees will be given the chance to report their updates.
In an attempt to be open to feedback, including what is and is not currently working regarding communications, leaders should ask employees for feedback on communications channels. For example, think about the leader who actively interacts with the employees. The leader may visit a station, unit, or office and talk with the staff. This is one strategy in which a leader can demonstrate their willingness to be involved and to listen, it can also be used as an informal forum in which staff is allowed to express their feedback.
To be productive, leaders require accurate information when they are addressing or interacting with staff. While the information does not need to be extremely detailed, the ability of the leader to address the basic questions of the employees is essential. This allows employees to realize that their leader is currently up-to-speed and reflects the administrative team’s willingness to share information.
Messages not only required to be clear, but they also need to be consistent as well. If employees perceive that they are not receiving consistent communications, the credibility of the leaders will start to falter. This will not only affect the relationship between leaders and employees, but it also has the potential to negatively influence any communication attempts in the future.
While the topic of employee motivation goes far beyond the scope of this discussion, leaders need to understand that communication impacts motivation. Employees who are left in the dark from a lack of leadership communications may start to lose any motivation towards their work. This can lead to a reduction in performance, job satisfaction, and may suppress staff contributions. In contrast, employees who remain updated regularly may demonstrate greater buy-in, feel valued, and can be motivated to take their performance to a whole new level. This creates a win-win scenario for both the leader and the employee.
How dependent are team members on one another to accomplish their goals?
For many product development teams, each person must collaborate alongside several others to bring the product to market. Is the designer late? Problems in QA? The client has introduced new requirements?
Any changes were done to the timeline or expectations spread through, affecting everyone else. This is one reason why daily meets have become popular with teams like this. It gives them the chance to update each other and coordinate properly. The problem that plagues a business in one location may not impact on a different location. It’s useful for these employees to meet semi-regularly to compare notes, share insights, and work to change those few then that have impacted them all.
When correctly integrated into a management routine, the fundamental role of a cadence is the drive collaboration amongst team members. The by-product of this effort reveals itself through four primary benefits.
Get your business cadence established early as possible, so that it’s embedded into your company’s culture. Remember that having a great project will develop an overall collaboration culture.
Keep the bigger picture in mind. With regularly scheduled one-on-one your communication and success will vastly improve. But it’s also necessary to think bigger and longer-term with people as well. Discussion of the goals and career planning and other interesting topics is essential and doesn’t need to happen as frequently as one-on-one. Schedule time for a long-range and bigger picture topic beyond regular work communication.
For the most part, quarterly will be a great frequency here, but make sure you don’t go farther than once per year. In many cases the team member won’t request for this conversation, assuming you will be the ones to call them up. Them not asking doesn’t mean they don’t want or need these conversations. As the leader, you are setting the cadence and make sure these important conversations are a part of it.
Originally published at https://www.joinit.org.