There is an old game called the telephone game. It has long been a staple in childhood classrooms and corporate retreats to teach the value of clear communication, working together, and what can go wrong when a message, that starts out clear and concise, gets passed along beyond recognition. The game serves as a reminder of how easily a message can be distorted, even with the best of intentions.
Corporations, on many levels, function much like participants of this old, beloved game. Each level of an organization is responsible for a specific function, communication, or execution of tasks. Yet, what happens when a clear message gets lost in translation, and from the top down the system of communication and motivation breaks down? Disaster.
Employees want to be engaged in their work, and there are ways to foster clearer communication to keep workers motivated, happy, and better aligned. Clear communication starts with relaying your purpose, employing progress through open channels of communication, and being transparent both in how things are going well and where improvement is needed.
A strategic vision statement acts as a message of your purpose. It is the start of any communicated strategy, and ultimately serves as a directing force, guiding a company to where it wants to go and how to share that plan with its workforce. When estimates show that disengaged workers cost the US economy $450-550 billion dollars a year alone, it is clear that communicating and engaging workers is vital.
Employees should be engaged, motivated and united in one purpose. Otherwise, they have no common stake in making a company profitable, executing tasks, or communicating to get things done. An engaged worker, guided by a clear common goal, has a better understanding of what is at stake and will work harder and communicate more effectively. When employees are engaged, they are 73% more likely to agree they are committed to the organization.
While a vision statement is important as a rallying point, it’s only one small part of keeping employees motivated, engaged, and communicating. To drive execution, all employees must have clear lines of communication, feel connected to each other through discussion, and readily see how their tasks and role fit into the organization as a whole.
Strong communication starts by linking all levels, departments, and tasks through a strategic map to promote communication and execution. A clear strategy across all levels of an organization builds trust among employees, keeping them motivated and engaged to get things done. Better communication also adds a layer of responsibility and accountability that ensures each level of the team is kept engaged and responsive.
To promote communication in the workplace, some level of transparency must also be evident. This requires the ability to share with employees both progress and problem areas, so there is an environment that fosters creating solutions and building cooperation, as well as encourages praise and recognition. And transparency can go both ways – strong communication allows employees to bring concerns or mistakes to the rest of the team, without fear of retribution.
To measure success and assess risk, any good strategy should communicate physical data like KPIs and other metrics. Clearly communicating to employees with real data helps everyone more easily see see where things are working and where a breakdown may be occurring. Additionally, this kind of data-based communication helps ground collaboration in real purpose, giving everyone a stake in the company’s overall success.
While strategic planning is no phone game, the end objective of sending a clear message is the same. Strategy planning and execution based on clear communication requires a visual, collaborative and purposeful approach. When employees feel open lines of communications exist, it is much easier to engage as part of the team, and to take a real interest in seeing the company succeed. The best communicated strategy is the one that keeps everyone on the path to a winning outcome.