It is said that 90% of business is communication. It follows then that effective communication leads to better business. When I analyze the components of effective communication, three major categories emerge to provide a useful prism through which to review and assess how well communications are working. These are urgency, ownership, and audience.
Urgency is the first screen through which to analyze your communications. The greater the urgency, the greater the consequence of success or failure. Your goal is to have others embrace your urgency, and recruit them to take action. I believe that all communications exist on a spectrum of urgency, and fall somewhere between little and great. These urgencies may be driven by your organizational strategy, say, tied to a marketing campaign for a new product or service; to an external event, such as response to publicity; and, of course, all activities of your business units.
Understanding urgency and the related consequence, and communicating this urgency to everyone involved, is the first leg of effective business communications.
Ownership, or more specifically, ownership of outcomes, are the results you hope to achieve through a successful communication. An organization whereby people “own the outcome” is one where the responsibility to communicate is maintained until the outcome is reached. Rarely is it good enough to assume that once you’ve initiated a communication, the outcome is assured. When you own the outcome, you accept the responsibility for completion. You will know answers to questions such as: Was the communication received? Was it understood? Is there further action necessary to take place? Who will make it happen, and in what time frame? Typically, the degree and importance of ownership increases with the level of urgency.
A culture that includes the “ownership of outcomes” is likely to avoid the cost in money, time, and reputation that occur from failed communication.
Communication is effective when based on a thorough understanding of your audience. Active listening skills are valuable to know what your audience wants, and how to reach them. A good listener will also ascertain if your intended audience has received, understood, and acted upon your communication; and what is necessary to communicate next.
When communications are targeted to your audience, you will maximize the opportunity for action—action being the operative word in effective business communication.