Communication is the silent killer

Remember that game we all played as kids called ‘telephone’? Here’s how the game looked when we were kids:

Well, even though we all grew up and got real jobs doesn’t mean the ‘game’ changed all that much. Here’s how the game can look in business:
I was reminded of the need for clear communication anew this weekend while reading an excellent blog post from Harvard Business Review. The title of the article, ‘The Silent Killer of Big Companies‘ initially made me think the article would be about the lack of innovation in big companies or the inability to change course quickly and effectively. The point, however, was about something much more. Communication.

The HBR post notes how five large companies, namely, Nokia, Enron, Star Princess Cruise Lines, British Petroleum, and Thai Airways all have dealt with the dire consequences of poor internal communication. While external communication via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is an entirely different conversation, what is the cost of not communicating well and often with a company’s internal personnel?

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Every leader keenly understands the consequences of taking a lax approach to financial management. And most leaders today recognize how dangerous it can be to take a lax approach  to people  management. But how many leaders appreciate the risks that come with taking a lax approach to communication management — with failing to manage the way that ideas and  information flows  within their organization?

Those leaders who do effectively manage the flow of information within their company tend to share a certain outlook — and a certain set of practices. They adopt communication methods that enable them to get closer to employees. They put in place communication systems that promote dialogue, as opposed to monologue. They engage employees by allowing them to become active participants in the communication process. They rigorously pursue an agenda that aligns their communication efforts with organizational strategy.

They put a premium on ensuring that people in their organization talk with each other, and not just to each other.

The question then is not ‘Why’ but ‘How’ to help organizations ensure their people talk with each other, especially those organizations that have a large mobile-based employee population. Email has been the staple of communication for many decades, but what about the organization that doesn’t provide a corporate email address to all of their employees – especially the non-desk worker and ‘mobile’ population?

What often happens (sadly) is this kind of employee is the last person to hear what’s going on ‘at corporate’ and is like the kid stuck at the end of the ‘telephone game’ line. Have you ever been that kid? How clear was the message you received?

Patrick Goodman
Red e App Product and Engagement Director

 

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