Part 4 of an 11-part blog series on the Rockefeller Habits for associations.
Do you remember the telephone game in grade school? The teacher would whisper a word or phrase into a student’s ear, who would then whisper it to another until the message had travelled through the entire class. At the end, the results were always hilarious and often completely incoherent. It was always embarrassing to be the last student with the phrase, confidently sharing that “Mandy ate red socks at sunset,” just to hear the teacher originally said “The man ate red sauce on his bread.”
I can tell you this: If you didn’t like the game as a child, you’ll really hate it in the workplace.
Clear lines of internal communication are imperative to a high performing operation of any size, but when communication goes beyond the five people sitting in a conference room, the message is likely to get fuzzy before reaching the last employee. To avoid miscommunication and misalignment in an organization, there need to be processes put in place to ensure that the same messages are accessible to everyone.
Communication is visible
In order to ensure that everyone is receiving and implementing the same information, it needs to be visible. Teams experience a number of different small-scale and larger-scale conversations throughout the day—meetings, desk talks, phone calls, quick questions, etc. This information builds into a larger understanding of priorities and will be used to make decisions, so you’ll want to make sure it is updated regularly and immediately available. Consider implementing the following:
- Community meeting notes. If it was discussed, it was recorded. If it was recorded, it was shared. This will keep everyone on the same page with updates, and support quicker decision making.
- Collaboration and communication platform. Whether you are using a Google Suite to keep everyone connected and working together or a channel-driven tool like Slack, make sure there is an internal board for communications.
Meetings with purpose
No one wants to lead (or attend) the meeting that could’ve been an email. Your teams are working to accomplish a lot, and there are defined priorities that everyone should be making progress on. Make the most of meeting times by making sure they are structured and serve a purpose.
- Host short daily meetings with smaller teams to discuss the day’s priority, and any areas in which a teammate might be holding someone else back from accomplishing their tasks.
- Host weekly team meetings to discuss progress towards the goals you have set for the next 90 days. What is on time? What needs more attention? What will next week look like?
- Host monthly meetings with larger teams to discuss updates on priority tracking, review metrics, and discuss employee feedback. These meetings should be held with larger groups and allow time for both presentation and discussions.
- Host quarterly meetings for the entire team to review the previous quarter, and create a one page plan detailing the new quarter. Coming out of this meeting, everyone should have an understanding of what the top goal is and how they are getting there.
Information has a path to follow: The value of the middle
One of the biggest and most important areas of communication comes from your association’s middle managers. These vital people connect the executive level with the team level, and ensure that everyone has the most up-to-date information on the daily tasks that are contributing to the larger projects that are meeting your association’s focul goal for the quarter.
Conversations on this level address conflict, outline problem-solving methods, share resources, and communicate primary focuses across different divisions. Middle management needs to be empowered to gather information from both sides of the organizational divide. Once done, they can share that information and make adjustments so that all communication is transparent, directly related to the larger organizational goals, and propels the organization forward.
Providing clear, actionable information is a cornerstone of making your association more aligned and powerful. Don’t allow whisper networks and half-understood directives to drag your association down. With the right kind of communication tools, daily and weekly meetings, and empowerment of your middle management to clarify and direct messaging, you will see a more cohesive team who not only understand the goals, but all the communication surrounding those goals.
We work with association leaders on a one-on-one basis to create better, more effective communication chains. Learn more about our coaching and culture consulting options.