All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions
A study in 2001 involving some 20 000 exit interviews found that the number one reason why people leave jobs is "poor supervisory behaviour". In other words, bad bosses. And one of the biggest factors cited in "poor supervisory behaviour" was poor communication.
Managers and business leaders spend an estimated 50% to 80% of their total time communicating in one way or another. Small wonder then that if you do it badly, the success of your entire business is at stake.
Effective communication is the key to managing customer and staff expectations, coordinating work efforts and building a deeper understanding of your customers.
It isn't always easy to know if you are communicating well - but it's even harder to know if you're doing it badly. Poor communication is self-sustaining, because there is no feedback loop. Staff don't voice their concerns because they don't think management will listen.
Think of communication as being a bit like looking after an office pot plant: it's easy to do right, in theory, but also easy to get wrong. Like an office plant, keeping communication alive and well in your business relies on three things:
- Basic skills and understanding (of language and communication devices, much like knowing when and how to water a plant).
- The right environment (a culture of openness and trust is as critical to communication as sunshine and warmth is to your office greenery).
- Regular attention (without care and input, communication - just like a neglected office plant - will eventually shrivel up and die.)
If you get this right, then sharing good news becomes a real celebration, and sharing bad news becomes more manageable. Remember that consulting with your employees and helping them to understand changes in the business never weakens your position, it strengthens it.
Also remember that as an entrepreneur, you probably thrive on change, rather than fear it. Your staff, on the other hand, probably find it disturbing and threatening. Their fear of change is as great as your own fear of failure. Good communication is the only way to bridge the gap.