Learning to communicate effectively in the workplace is easy. Get yourself a Netflix account and stream The Office season 1 through 6. Now, good communication doesn’t happen overnight; it will take at least several nights to watch every episode. After that, though, you should be fine; you’ll be ready to tackle negotiations and employee relations with aplomb. On second thought, don’t do that. Do the opposite of that. The show does serve a purpose though; it shows us that gaffes do happen; people make faux pas. It’s just not as funny in real life!
A big challenge facing small business owners is how to communicate your vision for the organization.
- What is important?
- Why am I bothering?
- What do I want these people to know?
- And who needs to know?
Key questions to answer as you plan how best to deliver your message. Ultimately, it is your vision that guides the business – and if you cannot communicate it clearly, it doesn’t bode well.
Peter Aceto, President and CEO of ING Canada is one of the more respected leaders in Canadian business and recipient of the prestigious 2010 COTY (Communicator of the Year) Award. Says he “I’m passionate about communication because I see the impact of it in building relationships, which is what connects us to one another and helps us appreciate different points of view.”
Through his simple, yet powerful, communication style, Aceto is able to create a vision and articulate that vision to everyone – managers, executives, clients, investors, and front-line employees. “I believe I need to be where our stakeholders are, whether in the lunch room with employees casually talking about our business or directly responding to our clients’ questions on Twitter.” With innovative ideas like the “brown bag lunch,” a once-a-week lunch where Aceto invites employees to a brown bag lunch to discuss various issues in an informal setting, Aceto makes it a point to meet stakeholders where they are.
Peter Aceto understands the basic tenets of effective communication, and that you need to communicate with people on an appropriate level and in a direct manner. So, how do you make it clear to every employee what is important to your business? How can you communicate with them in such a way that they will affect the change needed to reach the goals? There is more than one way to do that; Claymore Investment’s Som Seif does it by keeping stakeholders updated via social media and creating a culture of openness. Purolator CEO Tom Schmitt does it by encouraging and maintaining a high level of transparency. Rona’s Robert Dutton does it by focusing on educating and inspiring young, up-and-coming employees with programs like Young Rona Business Leaders.
Now – how will you do it?
Implementing some of the ideas mentioned here can be challenging. If you would like to discuss them in the context of your own specific business please contact us. We’d be glad to help.