While it can certainly be argued that revenue is the “life blood” of an organization, it can also be argued that communication is the Central Nervous System (CNS). Just as with the human body, without a functioning CNS the blood will not flow. The CNS (effective communication) creates a connection with every component of a healthy, effective organization and allows the individual components to function as a whole. My physician friends could probably find holes in my analogy, but I think it makes the point that without effective, open and flowing communication throughout the entire organization there will be a higher probability of system failure. Leaders of effective organizations understand the critical importance of open, clear and flowing communication to the success of their organizations and they insist on it.
For 30+ years we have asked our students in both management and communication courses to tell us why they think communication is so important and we always get responses like the following:
- You can’t get good results without it.
- It is central to being both efficient and effective.
- You can’t have a high level of job satisfaction without it.
- It is the key to providing quality products and services.
- It is the key to creating a safe workplace.
- It keeps everyone going in the same strategic direction.
- It is critical to healthy relationships.
- It is critical to happiness.
...just to name a few. The value of open communication has been easy enough for our students to identify, but experiencing those benefits requires intentionality -- at the individual and organizational level.
Hardware & Software
Open communication involves the flow of information between departments and individuals that is required to achieve the results needed for organizational success. To accomplish this, effective leaders put in place the communication hardware needed within the organization. Highly effective organizations also provide the necessary communication software in the form of training to utilize the hardware and to deal effectively with the conflict that can arise in the normal flow of everyday work life.
Effective leaders know that conflict, if handled well, can lead to innovation. They also know that if conflict is not handled well it can lead to organizational failure. They know that when people are not talking, they are usually “guessing” about the intent behind the actions of other people and that those guesses are usually negative and thus conflict producing. So to deal with the conflict before it can create failure, they teach team members to:
- stop the guessing
- ask to determine true intent
- and then resolve the conflict in a mutually beneficial manner.
If you have attended either our SafetyCompass® or PerformanceCompass® training, you will recognize this as the SAFE process for dealing with any form of failure. This applies to dealing with unsafe actions, but it also works when dealing with conflict.
What's the point?
Understanding that our bad guesses can lead to closed communication is the first step to helping to open up communications within an organization. This process is what “open communication” is really all about.