As an entrepreneur, I know that many businesses start off as a one-person show. Those early moments in a business’ life cycle can be exciting; concepts are honed, business plans are built out, and prototypes are created. However, at some point, practically every successful business needs to grow to encompass additional team members. How an entrepreneur engages in communication with those team members can make a significant impact on the eventual success of the endeavor. Since this is something that I consider to be a strength of the work that we do at LifeWave, I wanted to take some time to discuss effective communication and how it has a top-down impact on the work that I do as CEO.
Know Your Communication Partners
In my opinion, one of the most important aspects of effective communication is your knowledge of the person with whom you’re communicating. That doesn’t mean that you have to know everything about your team members to communicate with them, but it does help to understand how they might best receive information. Some people are visual learners, some work best when they’re communicating in person, and others just want a quick email with the salient points of a discussion. Whatever the case may be, tailoring your communication to your partners when possible can go a long way to ensuring that they hear you.
There is, of course, a limit to how much you can tailor a specific piece of communication to an individual’s learning style. For instance, the message itself may be best in a specific form, be that in a formal presentation, quick memo, or some other channel. Finding the right balance between tailoring communication to your partners and the needs of the message itself can be key here. Consider taking some time to think not only about the individuals with which you are communicating but also the nature of the message itself. Look for opportunities to strike a balance between these disparate needs when possible.
Be Mindful of Time
Effective communication is an important part of making sure that a company runs properly, but, as with everything, there are trade-offs. Effective communication can be rendered much less useful if it takes an inordinate amount of time or resources to accomplish. For instance, it may be that a particular piece of information would be most comprehensively delivered in an all-day training session so that team members can ask questions and learn the nuances of the message. However, it may be more effective to constrain the communication to a one-hour meeting and provide additional resources for follow-up if necessary.
This type of analysis requires some high-level thinking about the importance of the message and the impact on the business if it is not fully internalized by the entire team. If the message is so critical that a misunderstanding could be catastrophic, then you may want to devote additional resources to its communication. If it only requires understanding by a majority of the team, a more measured approach may be adequate.
Train for Communication
Training of new hires and existing team members can play an integral part in an overall communication strategy. By making sure that all individuals are up to speed with company-wide technologies and communication platforms, leaders can set the expectation from the start that communication is a team priority. In the absence of this kind of official setting of expectations, some team members may use a platform that other team members aren’t using, leading to company-wide inefficiencies that get in the way of effective collaboration.
Ask for Feedback
It’s rare in any pursuit to get things 100 percent correct right out of the gate, and communication is no exception. If you’re new to prioritizing communication for your team, you may stumble in more than a few areas or find points of focus that aren’t performing as well as you’d like. That’s okay; in fact, it’s to be expected.
Rather than let those first stumbles get you down, you can work to grow and learn throughout the process. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is by soliciting feedback from your team. Don’t be afraid to ask team members what they think about your communication style and ask for areas of potential improvement. This not only shows that you value their opinions but also gives you actionable ways to communicate more effectively with others at your organization.
While many entrepreneurs thrive with a lone-wolf approach to starting a new business, it’s almost inevitable that these businesses will grow once they achieve a certain level of success. To continue to thrive during that growth, it is important to prioritize effective communication throughout the company.