Communication is perhaps the most important aspect of a successful relationship, and business relationships are no different. Disseminating information clearly and effectively is critical for business growth. Sales, marketing, customer success, recruiting, project management, operations, HR — success in all of these departments hinges on strategic discussions and clear communication.
At my current company, VentureDevs, great communication is a core value. Like all startups, we have experienced natural growing pains throughout our early years as a company. But being a multinational company, we have created unique strategies to solve these challenges. Part of my job as CEO is to anticipate potential challenges, swiftly address issues as they come up, and create processes to alleviate problems. Other business leaders who want to put their companies on the right track should prioritize the same responsibilities.
Conquering Communication Challenges
Without open lines of communication, your team won’t be able to get anything done. After all, work requires collaboration, and I would argue that the best work is usually done collaboratively. It’s a great way to make team members appreciate one another and to keep them focused, motivated, and engaged at work.
Communication is also the key to constructive customer interactions. Whether you’re meeting with customers face-to-face, through video calls, or via email, you need to reach them in ways that feel personal and give them a sense of your values. Developing the tenets of communication that are ideal for consumer-facing messages is one of any leader’s biggest responsibilities.
Members of a company’s leadership team must also actively seek out bottlenecks where information flow is inhibited and work to resolve them. The busier you are, the more communication is likely to falter, and one of the hardest parts about tracking down bottlenecks is the almost inevitable realization that you yourself are actually one of them. Fortunately, learning how you can do a better job of communicating is very rewarding from both a business and personal perspective.
Perfect communication might be impossible to achieve, but striving for it is a valuable goal.
If you recognize that your company could use some improvement in this area, consider the following strategies:
Implement processes to facilitate collaboration from day one.
From your very first hire, you should focus on ensuring that processes and workflows are in place to make the flow of information from person to person as smooth as possible. Your company will have a unique communication style that you should be able to identify and begin to accommodate right away. As you fill new positions, you’ll fill in more detail about when and how information is relayed throughout the company, whether it be through regular emails or weekly meetings for which all parties prepare.
Take advantage of available tech solutions.
You don’t have to work on your team’s communication strategies alone when many tech tools exist to solve these exact problems. My team, for example, uses tech to communicate between our offices in the United States and Poland and to create the “watercooler” feeling that single-location offices experience. Most companies use apps like Slack to chat with co-workers — even if they’re just a room away. If you find that existing programs aren’t meeting your needs, you could consider a custom solution. Just remember that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to improve.
Review your strategies thoroughly and often.
Maintain a critical view of your processes, and act to change them when necessary. As your company grows, it will become clear that what worked in your early days might no longer satisfy your needs. Create checkpoints to evaluate your strategies at each stage of your growth. Collect feedback from your employees regularly to ensure your tools are working successfully. If they aren’t, you know it’s time for an update. That could mean redistributing work, shifting positions, or dropping a communication solution entirely.
Center your culture on transparency.
Some CEOs try to rule their companies from a glass tower. From a position that closed off, there’s no way to create a culture that values communication. Instead of siloing yourself away, make an effort to connect with your employees and encourage them to come to you with feedback, questions, or concerns. If you discover that they are hesitant to send comments, constructive criticism, or complaints your way, keep an eye out for telltale signs of danger, like employees who are consistently stressed or areas where work frequently stalls. Emphasize that if everyone stays honest about what’s working and what isn’t, your processes will improve that much faster.
I know from experience that quality communication is always a work in progress. My current company has grown very quickly, and I’m still sometimes surprised by how drastically we’ve had to adjust our processes. No matter how quickly your business is growing, it’s critical to take a step back and evaluate the way your team shares and discusses information. When you build your company around honesty, transparency, and empathy and you encourage your employees to follow these principles, you set your team up to reach even its highest goals together.
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