One of the most common phrases I hear when I talk with business leaders and managers about their biggest issues or frustrations with their organization is, “We have poor communication.” If you feel that way at times about your organization, you are far from alone.
But what if I told you that your communication problems aren’t communication problems at all?
Several months ago, I hired facilitation coach Dino Signore, Ph.D. to help me on my journey to mastery as a coach myself. In one of our sessions, the topic of poor communication in organizations came up.
To better understand why groups often complain of poor communication, it is important to first understand why groups form in the first place. If you are part of a group or team at work, why does your group exist?
Groups or teams typically form in order to solve problems. For teams to solve problems, information must flow well within the group. Information flows as a result of a process. When that process is clear and followed by all, information flows well and the group solves problems effectively. When that process is not clear, or not followed by all, information does not flow well and the group does not solve problems effectively.
You Don’t Have Communication Problems; You Have an Information Flow Problem
Poor communication is a symptom of a deeper issue, not the real issue. If you feel like you have poor communication at times, look into the process by which information flows through your organization.
Do you have the right meeting pulse? Are you meeting too infrequently and not staying on the same page and aligned? Are you meeting too much and wasting time, causing people to disengage from the meetings? Find the right cadence to stay connected and on the same page.
I teach my clients the EOS® meeting pulse: a weekly Level-10 meeting that is on the same day, at the same time, follows the same agenda, starts on time and ends on time. Beyond that, there are three all-day quarterly planning sessions and a two-day annual planning retreat once a year.
Are your meetings highly functional? Do you smoke out and solve issues well so that they don’t keep recurring? Do you cascade messages from your meetings out to the rest of the organization as necessary, so everyone remains aligned and clear? How would you rate the value and effectiveness of your meetings on a scale from 1 to 10?
Most of the teams I work with say that their meetings are around a 4 before we start working together. As I help them develop a better process and teach them to have meetings that consistently rate 9s and 10s, I ask them a few basic questions about the following behaviors that can damage the quality of the meetings:
1 – Who interrupts?
2 – Who talks forever?
3 – Who talks first?
4 – Who talks last?
5 – Who does not talk?
Asking these questions helps to smoke out some of the behaviors that negatively affect meetings so that team members can become more aware and modify behaviors. The next time you are in a meeting, pay attention to the five questions above and see if you can detect the behaviors that are damaging your meetings.
With a solid meeting pulse and a clear understanding of the behaviors that negatively affect your meetings, you can begin to focus on the process by which information flows—both in the meetings and in between teams outside of the meetings.
- Curious about learning more? Schedule a call to see if EOS® and SMART-Direction are a good match for your organization.
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