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Defining Effective Communication

What you say matters

It’s important, as leaders, that we understand the difference between good and poor communication. That being said, the difference isn’t always clear. We hear different advice and perspectives on what’s effective—especially in our current environment.

Good communication has three facets:

  1. Clarity
  2. Transparency
  3. Impact

As leaders, we have the responsibility to deliver the right message at the right time in the right way, particularly during times of change and unrest. When we do, it sends a message to our employees that we care about them and that we understand what they are going through.

Employees want to feel that leaders empathize with their situation, understand who they are, and aware of what may be impacting them personally. Every employee’s life and situation are different and to feel understood not only brings personal gratification, but it can be extremely impactful to performance and confidence. Think about yourself, it’s empowering to feel understood as an individual—your strengths, your weaknesses, and your individual drivers and traits. None of us want to feel like we are a number or just one of many in any situation in life and it’s no different for your employees, in fact, it’s even more critical with your employees.

At WSA we have a communication item that consistently helps us understand the quality of communication at an organization:

“In this organization, there is open, honest, two-way communication.”

Let’s break that down a bit further. First, honest communication is about truthfulness and transparency. As leaders, we don’t always have all of the answers, especially during times of uncertainty. Being open and direct about this is humanizing to employees and goes a long way to setting the foundation for effective communication—especially during tough conversations, which have become even more prevalent in our present workforces and day-to-day lives. Building trust through honesty and transparency now will go a long way in the outcome and overall atmosphere of those conversations.

Secondly,  part of the driver deals with two-way communication. This is all about listening, people want to be heard. They want to know that you value them. Active and engaged listening shows them that their opinion matters and that they have a voice in the conversation.

Always remember, at this moment WE CAN. We can listen more carefully than we ever have before. It’s critical and it’s worth it.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak up. Courage is what it takes to sit down and listen.” 

-Winston Churchill


Kris Erickson, WSA, Co-Founder, Director of Consulting

To learn more about effective communication and insights from our Workforce Wise series, view Kris’ video: The Critical Components of Communication

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