In 1983 glam rockers Spandau Ballet released a catchy tune that had the line "communication let me down, and I'm left here".
It was a memorable hit for a band that was possibly more gloss than substance and they never really did define in the song where "here" actually was. We needn't have worried for Spandau Ballet though, because wherever "here" was it turns out fortunes were made in supplying them copious gel and mousse to style their mullets.
In business, you need to communicate clearly at all times and at all levels. There has been many a business failure that has had at its genesis a misunderstanding of an important message.
A great example of this was Coca Cola's infamous change to the formula of its premier drink. It was a complete disaster when the "smartest guys in the room" totally misread what their customers were saying in taste surveys and "New Coke" failed, was rejected, and eventually withdrawn.
So, it is vital that you listen well, clearly deliver messages and are aware of how you do it. In human communication, in all forms, so many variables can skew a message. Even if you get everything "right" you might not communicate effectively because of the inherent biases of the receiver of the message, let alone their listening skills (or lack thereof).
But make no mistake, not communicating when you should actually is communicating – especially when there is an expectation that you should do so. If you have information that would benefit your group or organisation it needs to be brought out in the open so that it can be dealt with appropriately.
And you can communicate a message through your actions – right now, those managing our response to the virus are communicating with the New Zealand public regularly – in fact, you can stop everything you are doing at 1pm daily to receive the messaging. Although, I do not believe that "elimination" is our true trajectory anymore as, like my article last week noted, I think there is a growing realisation that "living with the virus" is where we are headed.
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But, again, there is still no clearly communicated plan.
A communication plan will enable you to manage risk but will also assist with better utilising the modes available to you. For example, in a town like Whanganui, it is amazing how effective and efficient the local network is. There are so few degrees of separation that it doesn't take long for messages to reach you (even those that might not be meant for you), or for you to find out what people are up to. If you are tapped into this and have the right contacts, it can be a real advantage and can also allow you to get a step on your competitors.
It is also important to have excellent tools and modes of communication - ones that work and that you have a good understanding of. We can't all have a national press conference at 1pm but there are tools that are efficient and effective at getting your message across. So, at times, communication might let you down like it did for Spandau Ballet - but it needn't leave you out in the cold if you know what good communication is. I know this much is True.