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Tuesday, 26 January 2016 00:33

Nineteen To A Dozen

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Enhancing communication in an organization

Key Learnings

·         Excellent conversational skills are crucial to becoming an effective business leader.
 ·       Training helps employees to blend ‘in-person’ conversations with conversational media to improve organization-wide communication.

In-person conversations frighten the best of managers and employees. Most people would do anything to avoid face-to-face encounters, especially if they have to do the talking. In fact, the one area where most managers and employees excel in thinking outside the box is avoiding face-to-face conversations on touchy,controversial or high-stakes topics.

The Façade
Managers add new high-techcommunication tools to their arsenal each year in hopes of improving their communication skills. The truth is that most thank technology for making it easier to avoid awkward face-to-face meetings.

Excellent conversational skills are crucial to the success of any effective business leader, yet most resort to sending emails, voicemails and instant messages, not realizing that such situations require real-time face-to-face communications. Worse still, managers who lack the nerve to give negative feedback inperson think nothing of sending an insulting e-mail.

High-stakes conversations are both emotionally taxing and time consuming. Technology takes care of both of these issues, but at the same time, it distances people. Real-time, interpersonal communications are growing rarer by the day. Popular employees and effective managers have one thing in common- they do most of their talking in person. So while organizations encourage face-to-face conversations, a little training could help employees choose the correct conversational media.

The Course of Action
When a new means of communication hits the market, the CLO sits down with different work teams and gets them to talk about the pros and cons of each media type. Work teams discuss the advantages of each media type and tool. The CLO then gets these teams to agree on a set of norms and clarify standards on how best to use available technology. He also asks them to list situations that warrant real time face-to-face communication and urges them not to avoid in-person conversations when such situations arise. The primary objective of such meetings is to get employees to understand how using the right blend of interpersonal communications and conversational media improves organization-wide communications.

Customized Training
Not all organizations can get their work teams to discuss and establish norms on how to use conversational media - this is where learning professionals come in. Running short courses on how to use available conversational media sets communication standards for the entire organization. The courses usually cover two important areas - the guidelines for selecting the appropriate media and the suitability of in-person conversations over technology.

Communicating Right
Telephone Guidelines
While this medium has been around long enough for employees to know how to use it effectively, constant reminders are always needed. Phone conversations are a strict “no”if in-person talk is necessary; however, this medium does allow for quasi-conversing and listening. Other strengths include quick, long distance communications. Telephone etiquette should be a part of training.

The drawbacks of this medium include start-up time and the absence of any written record of communication. The lack of nonverbal feedback is another major weakness, which is why this medium is not recommended when managers have to deal with delicate people issues.

E-mail Guidelines
From words to pictures, this medium is considered ideal for sending volumes of information. It is a faster and less taxing medium of conversing, and the employee also has a record of the conversation.

This medium works fine for asking simple questions and delegating simple tasks without getting up and moving from one’s work desk. Most email conversations are cryptic and abbreviated. Emails are a strict no when real conversations are needed. Discourage employees, especially managers, from using this medium when:

·         The people involved are in close proximity

·         Important tasks need to be explained and delegated

·         Negative feedback needs to be given

·         The conversation is formal in nature

Voicemail Guidelines
Most people are only too relieved when someone they call does not answer the phone! Thanks to voicemails, they now get to leave their message. However, voicemails are no substitutes for phone conversations. Leaving lengthy monologues is a strict no. The message should cover the basic information that the person called and would like to talk.The urgency to get in touch and a contact number too can be left. However, leaving lengthy, difficult instructions, tricky assignments and complicated messages should be avoided.

Instant messaging allows employees to avoid the small talk that is mandatory during telephone conversations. This, however, is a cumbersome medium when a conversation needs to be back and forth.

Instant messages are best used to ask quick questions such as, 'When can we meet?' 'What time are we leaving?' or 'Are you free right now?'In such cases, employees can avoid small talk; it also saves them the effort of dialing. The advantages of this medium are the lack of start-up time, and the fact that the respondent can answer in leisure. More importantly, they form a documentation process on official matters.

Summing Up
In short, training programs must end with listing circumstances where face-to-face conversations are a must. These include situations where the communicator:

·         Needs to read the receivers' non-verbal cues or listen to the receivers' opinion immediately.

·         Send complicated assignments and instructions.

·         Deliver sensitive or bad news, even negative feedback.

Such simple training can assure any organization its share of good communicators.

At TenStep we are dedicated to helping organizations achieve their goals and strategies through the successful execution of critical business projects. We provide training, consulting and products for organizations to help them set up an environment where projects are successful. This includes help with strategic planning, portfolio management, program / project management, Project Management Offices (PMOs) and project lifecycles. For more information, visit or contact us at
Read 3216 times Last modified on Tuesday, 26 January 2016 00:55
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