Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” Whether connecting in person or by email, phone or video call, we can still miss the mark despite the variety of communication methods available today. Pursuing effective communication can be the difference between success and failure in gaining alignment, keeping everyone on the same page and achieving goals.

Mission and clarity

While working in the aerospace manufacturing industry, I learned there was no time to waste in meeting deadlines due to the high-stakes consequences facing our commercial and military customers. I started every day gathering the status on progress and upcoming objectives, then building a plan for who I needed to engage to meet delivery commitments. Perhaps the most significant aspect of this experience was realizing that I was one of many working against the clock to complete a long to-do list. This taught me the importance of being mission-oriented, direct and clear in communicating with others, leaving no room for misinterpretation and encouraging coworkers to reciprocate.

Open communication

Effective communication also meant establishing an open channel with a carefully assembled team to share good and bad news—and not letting either distract us from our end goal. Although I was the one responsible for reporting progress to leadership, I learned the value of gathering those who played a role in reaching a particular milestone, sharing the latest updates, and appreciating each person’s insight or perspective. Having the facts out in the open gave us the opportunity to collectively overcome challenges instead of struggling with potential miscommunication or confusion. This made me realize the need for honesty, creativity and clarity in tackling ongoing obstacles.

Engaging everyone

The ability to see the path through obstacles is only half the battle; navigating the way is what pays the bills and effective communication is the best map to move forward. If a teammate is unable to solve a problem, it’s time to engage everyone, escalate the issue up the chain and inform those who may be affected down the line. Leaders can then ask critical “what, when, who” questions, such as:

  • What are we doing about this problem?
  • When did we know about it?
  • Who can help provide a solution?

By thoughtfully processing feedback to such questions, leaders create a sustainable organizational culture that listens to, acts and depends on input.

Mission-oriented, open and engaging communication

Communication starts with leadership and spreads throughout the entire organization. Without it, there are no teams or team members, only a group of individuals going in different directions. That’s why I emphasize mission-oriented, open and engaging communication in my consulting work. Please contact me through Resigility or LinkedIn to discuss how effective communication can help improve your organization’s processes, operations and outcomes. At the end of the day, it’s vital that there’s no illusion around how you and your employees or colleagues convey information, knowledge or ideas!

Joe Cruz, Consultant, Resigility