The deadly killer in business and how to avoid it
Every day in life I’m sure we all come across a conversation and think to ourselves “what the hell is going here?” or “what are the plans?”. In the example of meeting friends for dinner, you would want to know WHEN, WHERE and WHO will be attending. Whilst these questions seem obvious, there is more to them than meets the eye. Let me explain.
The WHEN is crucial, if this is not understood then there may not be a dinner to attend or you may miss it (not good if you know the food is amazing). The WHERE is also vitally important. Knowing the where allows your mind to work through the process of asking yourself a series of questions; how much will the evening cost me roughly? Can I afford it? Am I willing to pay the amount it will cost? (The perceived value versus expense of the evening), Do I/will I like it there? Where is the restaurant located? Whilst you may not consciously ask yourself these questions, if you were invited to a restaurant that you had never visited before, you would be likely to research it. Perhaps you would ask friends about the place or perhaps you would research the Restaurant online to check it out to make sure it suits your tastes and budget. Either way, you are likely to find out a bit about where you are going before fully committing yourself to the evening. Finally, the WHO is as equally important. Knowing the who enables you to assess the current dynamic relationship between the individuals who will be attending the dinner, thus enabling you to make the decision if you actually want to go. Knowing the who also enables you to proceed to gathering contact information (if you don’t have it already) should the dinner plans change.
As demonstrated, there is actually a lot more than meets the eye that goes into meeting friends for dinner. The process of arranging dinner now comes second nature to us (unless you’re still in you early 20’s and just go with the flow!). But why is it second nature to us? Well, for hundreds of years we have been communicating & organising dinner parties, Birthday celebrations, Christmas gatherings, Weddings and holidays amongst other celebrations so we have got damn good at it. We have learnt from the community around us (friends and family) to scope out the details, budget the finances, plan the timescales, update key persons if plans change, impact assessment (for example, knowing you will be in debt for an x amount of time to pay off the Wedding), send out invites, raise awareness, We do all this with communication skills and do it well. This leads me to my next point.
The same principles apply at work. EXACTLY THE SAME. Planning, budget, timescales, key stakeholders, updates, impact assessment and of course, communication.
As we know from the dinner scenario, if we couldn’t make it to dinner and wanted to rearrange then we would discuss this with everyone else who would be going, or at least someone who would update everyone else. If we wanted to change the venue then again the point would be raised. If we hadn’t booked a table and the wait time was past an acceptable level then we would probably look to change the venue and adjust our plans. Being able to communicate all the elements of the evening is key to making it a success. Planning, budgeting and timescales and all the other elements don’t mean anything if we don’t communicate them out to the people that need to know or should know. If your friends were coming to dinner then of course they would need to know, but if they were parents then although the children wouldn’t need to know, they would be informed that baby sitters are coming around and would be told a suitable reason as to why. Getting the buy-in from the children is important so they don’t play up on the night and cause you to run late (or so I’m told!). Communication about the what, when and why plays a huge part in business to whether there is success or failure in a project.
In my experience I have seen some fabulous examples of communication within a company, but I have also seen where it can be vastly improved. We already use communication skills in our personal lives to plan events or projects (such as updating our kitchen) so all we need to do is to tap into that experience in our work lives. If we want to put something into motion at work then plan it, set timescales, know your budget, know who is involved or affected, mark out your milestones, understand the risks and project impact but most of all, communicate it out. I really cannot stress this enough. I have come across too many instances to count where a work project is happening and it is not effectively communicated out or isn’t communicated out at all. What would be the point in going to all the effort of planning whatever it is you are doing and then not letting anyone know?! I have seen this too many times. There will undoubtedly be key individuals that need to know the plans and there will be individuals that should know. Obtaining buy-in early in the project will ultimately lend its self to effective communication and acceptance throughout the project. Whether your project is to improve efficiency in the workplace, generate additional leads, update services offered, change office locations… whatever it is, communication is the key to success. Without it, it is only a matter of time before the business will start suffering.