Communication: Companies need less . . . not more!

This is the title of a great post on the Slow Leadership blog. Dave Woods says:

‘I work with a large variety of CEOs, senior managers and key employees. If I ask about the needs and issues within the company, I almost always get the same response: “We need more communication.”

My reaction to that is that it is simply, WRONG!

Companies don’t need more communication. They need more clarity.

  • Clarity of the vision of the company.
  • Clarity of where the company is going (long term and short term).
  • Clarity of HOW the company will get there.
  • Clarity of individual roles and how those roles create value toward the vision.
  • Clarity of how roles must intertwine in order to achieve extraordinary results.
  • Clarity of how the company will hold itself and each individual accountable.’

Dave then goes on to argue that if you look at a great sports team they actually need very little communication from the coach. They know all the plays and they know what they have to do. In short they have clarity. Dave argues that it is not communication that we should be increasing – but clarity.

Amen to that!

However clarity only comes with communication that is frequent, 2 way and relevant to both player and coach; employee and manager. Surely there can be no clarity without communication?

When you watch a great team play what you are seeing is the result of dozens of hours of communication, practice, feedback, delegation and coaching. Typically tens of hours of this ‘management’ go into every hour of play.

Life in most businesses is not like that. There is no practice ground. It is always ‘game time’. And most managers find it incredibly difficult to pull players out of the game to them at all whether to clarify, give feedback, coach or delegate. It is all they can do to keep playing the game – never mind improve.

So I disagree with Dave – and agree with his clients. Most organisations do need more communication. But it has to be effective. It has to focus on performance and improvement. It has to be constructive. It has to keep both vision and values in the front of people minds. And it has to be frequent.

Sounds just like a recipe for 121s to me!