July 13, 2021

Business Tips and Tools

A Reset in Communication

By: Jon Jaffe


Effective business communication is dependent on how employees and management interact with each other to reach operational goals. Alignment with each other through communication can improve an operation’s practices and procedures, eliminate silos, keep employees informed, and reduce errors. But what if there’s a disruption to that communication or a formal plan was never discussed? That’s when a communication reset is needed. Here’s how to make that happen for your business.

Look forward, not back. While it’s important to understand the past communication that’s occurred, the best use of time and energy is for the team to focus on future communication. For this purpose, you may need an impartial moderator to ensure the focus stays forward-looking and can help the group establish a baseline from which to move forward. That’s where a Farm Credit East consultant can help.

Bring all parties to the table. When beginning a communication reset, all employees and management who will be responsible for the success of future collaboration need to be at the table. It’s imperative that all parties are present to set the tone for what the reset will mean for each individual and for the team. 

Clarify Participants’ Roles. It is hard to effectively communicate if everyone at the table doesn’t know how they’re expected to participate in the meeting. Begin by clarifying each person’s role both in the business and how they’ll be expected to contribute during the meeting. 

Clarify Responsibilities. The role is the big picture. Responsibilities are the details. Responsibilities should be clarified in the meeting which may lead to new or modified responsibilities for participants.

Establish Lines of Communication. Once everyone has their roles and responsibilities, lines of communication establish who is responsible for initiating a conversation and an acceptable timeline for a response. If a water line breaks, a direct contact to the right person as soon as possible will go a long way to help get the problem under control.  

Define Communication Frequency. This is often overlooked. However, without an established cadence, individuals may feel they aren’t being communicated to enough or they’re overwhelmed with the amount of communication! Woven in this conversation may be the need to prioritize what is a work-stoppage, immediate need for communication (something that will greatly affect an employee’s workday) versus a lower-priority level of communication, such as a general project update. 

Communicate to those who need to know. Keep communication limited to those who need to know. If the distribution is too broad, it makes it more difficult to determine who should respond.

Determine Communication Style. Different people and generations have different styles or preferred methods of communication. It may be a phone, email, text message or another way. Also, different situations may call for different forms of urgency in communication method. The communication reset should agree on the desired communication form for each person and most situations.

Evaluate your progress and methods

Regular review and reset: Is our established method of communication working well? Do we need to make changes? Ask yourself these questions to make sure your communication reset has changed old habits.

Respect: Communication only works if it is done respectfully on all sides. Whether you agree or not, all communication needs to be done calmly and with respect for the other person. The golden rule should be observed here: treat the other person as you want to be treated.

Listen: Fully listen to others. If you don’t fully understand their perspective or the way they are communicating something, ask them to explain in more detail. It’s everyone’s responsibility to listen and communicate so the information can be fully absorbed.

In all communication, there should be a mutual goal of everyone involved. Whether it’s to make money, help complete a successful project or align a segment of your business, keeping that mutual goal in the forefront of your mind can help to remind the team why they are at the table in the first place! 

Tags: communication, consulting, business management, business plan

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