Effective Communication Systems

Effective Communication System

Part 1 of the Information Management and Knowledge Management Series

Apr. 19, 2022

 

Information Management…Knowledge Management…IM/KM Framework…the list continues. This three-part series examines the buzz words and phrases. Let’s begin with the first part of the series, the communication system.

Co-workers sitting at table communicating

 

How do you prefer to receive information? Does this method match how you communicate with others? A basic yet typical way to organize how we like to receive and deliver information is by adult learning styles, including visuals, reading or writing, auditory, or kinesthetic. For example, I am a writer. I prefer to receive a paper, read it with a highlighter, and translate the information back into the written word. With multiple tools and methods at our fingertips, why is poor communication the primary issue we discover in businesses?

 

The answer is in the facts. Research shows that 65% of the general population are visual learners. Folks in the visual learning category must see the information to retain it best (Atlassian 2018). Combining this with my personal preference for the written word makes it easy to relate to the struggle! I don’t want to draw a picture, and the visual learner doesn’t want to write a novel for me to read! Now what!?!? You need a communication system.

 

A communication system allows individuals to convey information accurately and concisely. The system must be governed by a process, reinforced at performance reviews, and operate at the speed of relevancy for communication to be effective. With technology, much can be automated so the information exchange “just happens” as your organization navigates the daily complexities. Still, it doesn’t fix the root issue.

 

There are three keys to making the communication system work for your organization.

    1. Communication must move freely to connect with each learning style.
    2. The system must be wildly visible.
    3. The system must provide value.

 

Let’s put these three elements together in an example system. We collect data on our supply chain through four research projects. We translate the data into information and send a colleague an 8-paragraph Pulitzer Prize-winning email. Here is the hard part… We need to “shake hands” with the recipient by scheduling a follow-up to confirm receipt, discuss the contents, and capture the action items in a shared visual format.

Process showing how a communication system works

 

This time-consuming action can result in small talk about weather and sports but always generates a shared understanding, unrestricted by adult learning types. It is valuable because it allows all individuals to collect and translate information in their preferred format before taking action. Trust me, engaging in a few minutes of off-topic banter is much easier than working all weekend to get a project back on track.

 

Sounds simple – right? Well…we have yet to discuss behaviors. What if someone is a procrastinator? We have all dealt with the person who didn’t see the message, chose not to watch the instructional video, or failed to action the ask from the meeting. These are places where your communication system increases its value with connection in your organization.

 

As stated earlier, regular performance management reviews universally emphasize the communication system as a corporate standard. Openly discussing the standard and expected adherence is an opportunity to reinforce the value and feedback aspect of the system.

 

We look forward to building on your communication system with part two of our series focused on information management. If you have questions about your communication system or want to improve it, let us know. Our goal is to communicate with you in a wildly visible and valuable way!