Several years ago, I conducted a Needs Assessment for a local firm. They wanted to be “Lean,” and asked for training in Process Improvement as well as a Needs Assessment to determine which areas made the most sense to work on first.
“What is the most common problem that you see in most organizations?”
At the time, AJC did not yet have a Change Management practice area, and the Needs Assessment they requested was in Operations and Process, so I was planning to focus the open-ended questions on those areas, but even so, my response came immediately.
“Communication,” I replied, unhesitatingly.
It seems that in all organizations there are things that some people know that others don’t. Sometimes this is appropriate based on roles and levels, but when it comes to vision, values, rationale, gaining support, or aligning the team to a common purpose – lack of intentional, proactive, consistent, well articulated, and communication is often the root cause of most downstream problems.
Indeed, Patrick Lencioni’s Third Discipline of a Healthy Organization, as described in The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, is to “Over-Communicate Organizational Clarity.” If the team is going to jump on board with a new system, follow a new process, understand why they are still working from home versus back in the office, or why they are being asked to return to the office rather than allowed to stay home – or ANYTHING else requiring them to change anything about the status quo – strong communication is absolutely critical to start, implement, and complete the change.
AJC’s first stated value is Communication and Responsiveness. We not only strive to be responsive to our clients when they need something specifically from us, but also to communicate in a way that fits with our client’s culture and style. This means that we seek to get to know the client and their team, asking questions to learn about them and what is important to them – helping them through change using the key tool of Communication, and being an Accountability partner to them as we collaborate.
It is too easy for Leaders to work on strategy, execution plans, tactical implementation, and even on vision and values, and forget to intentionally, proactively, consistently, and articulately COMMUNICATE about these things to their greater teams who need to know.
Don’t fall victim to this #1 Problem! Even if done a bit clumsily, more communication is better than none.