3 C of Effective Communication
For effective communication, check your messages for the 3 C clear, concise, consistent. It is a waste of time to speak to an audience whose eyes are glazing over because they are overwhelmed with the amount and flow of information you are providing and meaningless to write communications that no one reads because the receiver has lost interest before you get to the point. One of the quickest ways to lose trust is by withholding information or by being inconsistent with your communications.
Clear and concise go hand in hand and can be achieved by addressing who, what, why, when, and where in the opening, the body and the summary. Say what you have to say in as few words as possible. Pay attention to the use of filler and buzz words. Resist the urge to over-explain. Instead, encourage feedback and questions. If questions arise from a written communication, be sure to respond to the entire audience either as questions come up or combine all the questions and follow up all at once. Always respond to the entire audience, not just the person asking the question. If one person asks a question it likely there are others with the same questions.
Verbal communication is effective because it provides the opportunity for a dialogue between the sender and receivers of the message. Written communication is important because it provides a record and reduces the potential for confusion. It is always a good idea to use written communication as follow up to verbal conversations. Everyone interprets verbal messages differently. A written record provides clarification.
Consistency is crucial for building trust. The quickest way to lose trust is by not keeping people informed. Information tends to leak out within companies regardless of how tight the controls are and people will draw their own conclusions if no one is providing context. These situations lead to poor morale and loss of productivity because of the overactive rumor mill. If this happens, always address the situation as soon as possible. If you aren prepared to fully communicate the situation, at least address the fact that there is a situation and more information will be coming.
Frequency is not the same as consistency. If you send out a communication every time you have a thought people will stop reading your messages. However, if you send notes after staff meetings, when there are staffing changes, or any time there is an important announcement, you are being consistent and people will value that. If you have built trust by communicating clearly, concisely, and consistently, people won get caught up in rumors because they know they can count on you to keep them informed.
Timing is important too. When you are communicating a change that directly affects your team, tell them in advance. A week or two notice is usually a good rule of thumb but the timing can vary greatly depending on the circumstances. This allows time for questions and to let the information sink in.