No matter how big or small your organization is – whether you are leading the marketing team of 50 at a Fortune 500 company, or you are the CEO of an agency of six – how your team interacts with each other, and how information is communicated internally, is vitally important. If the team isn’t in sync and singing from the same songbook, nothing gets done, or at least not done well. All the lofty goals and objectives will never be achieved if a team is working in silos, not communicating with each other. Good communication builds strong teams, and strong teams make businesses more competitive and more successful.
Here are several “must-dos” that I recommend:
- Be accessible: Communication starts from the top and flows down. We lead by example. I have witnessed this first hand. I know that when I am accessible and available to my team, when I am there to listen and to share, my team is happier, more engaged, and more open. This cuts down on miscommunications and assumptions and ensures that instructions and overall strategies are understood.
- Communicate frequently: To ensure that our entire team is connected, that we each know what the other is doing, and that nothing falls through the fast moving tracks, we have what we call “daily huddles.” These are stand-up meetings that are no more than 15 minutes long. This is our time to communicate our vital needs and concerns to the team at-large. Each member of the team spends about two minutes answering these three questions:
- What are my top priorities today?
- What do I need help with today?
- What is my time available to others today?
Focusing on “TODAY” is a crucial piece of this exercise. By communicating that day’s vital priorities, and by asking for help if we need it, we are truly integrating all of the strategies and tactics for each and every one of our clients.
Without a doubt, this simple and quick technique makes for not only better communication between our team, but also guarantees the integration of all the tactics in play for each client. Integration, of course, leads to increased productivity and results.
- Have clarity of vision and mission: If your company’s vision and mission is clear – and on display internally for all to see – you get buy-in. With buy-in comes passion and commitment. At Avocet, we gave our agency’s values, vision, and mission statements to our creative design team and had a poster created. That poster is mounted on a wall for all to see and be reminded of on a daily basis. Knowing why we do what we do is a great motivator.
- Develop personal connections: Get to know your employees on a personal level. Have one-to-one lunches or a cup of coffee, encourage chats in the office kitchen, and be sure to celebrate birthdays, special life events, and achievements. Take the time to know about each other’s families and friends, what each person might like to do after work. It may seem obvious, but it really is the human touch that makes all the difference. And, personal communication is more genuine; it opens the relationship so that ALL communication is then more authentic.
- Lead transparently: Just as accessibility is important, so is transparency. I have an open-door policy at Avocet. I am open about our financials, and about our short- and long-term revenue goals and objectives. It is my belief that a team can’t be motivated and invested if they don’t know what they are working for and what’s a stake.
- Encourage different POVs: As leaders, we cannot be afraid to have open dialogue with our team members. I welcome and encourage my team to disagree (respectfully, of course) with each other and with me. These are all super smart people; you wouldn’t have them on your team if they weren’t so why not seek out their valuable input. And, here’s the thing: leaders who don’t communicate and listen to all points of view, end up making decisions in a vacuum, and that is NEVER a good thing!
- Have fun: Never underestimate the power of day spent together bonding as individuals. At Avocet, we have regular social events that are purely and simply time away from the office where we can have fun together. We have gone to baseball games, Top Golf, spent an afternoon at a ceramics studio, experienced an Escape Room together, and often have spontaneous happy hours “just cuz.” It is at these gatherings that I notice that the communication is more open and free, and that translates to how we communicate in the office in a professional way.
- Listen: This one doesn’t require much of an explanation. An effective leader knows that the best and most creative advancements come when he or she sits back and listens. Ideas and creative strategies come from all sorts of unexpected places. When we listen, we foster clarity and understanding, and THAT, in turn, opens the space for creative thought and execution.
I love to hear how other CEOs approach their internal communications. I learned a great deal from Kerry Christopher, director of internal communications at General Motors, when I interviewed him for the Integrate & Ignite podcast. Take a listen here.