Three Out-of-the-Box Ideas to Revolutionize Communications in Your Company
If you read popular business blogs, books and magazines, you have discovered some useful ideas for improving communications in your company. But have you also noticed that most of those ideas, good though they are, can only improve communications a few ticks at a time? Have you also noticed that most of the experts whose ideas you encounter tend to repeat the same concepts over and over again?
Here are three ideas you have probably read about, with refinements to make them bigger, better and more effective.
Too-Small Idea: Active Listening
You have read about active listening time and time again. It is a way of listening in which you try to listen to what other people are saying, without formulating your reply while they are talking.
That’s a good practice, but it is even more effective to actively listen for what the other person is saying that is right, not for what you think is wrong. Then when it is your turn to talk, turn the conversation back to the “nuggets of wisdom” in what the other person just said – the ideas that are innovative and new – and explore and magnify them. You can also offer ownership of the good ideas that you have heard, by saying, “I think you should run with this and develop it and see where it leads.”
If you do that, you will stimulate people to exceed their own expectations, and yours. You won’t only be hearing good ideas; you will be acting on them.
Too-Small Idea: Reverse Mentoring
This is another hot idea that you read about often today. The idea behind it is that your company should allow your younger workers – who allegedly know all about technology – to teach your top executives about it. That sounds smart, and it can be. But it is based on a lot of assumptions that could simply not be true. Isn’t it possible, or even likely, that your most experienced company leaders possess a wealth of knowledge that they can teach down to people who don’t know it?
Furthermore, focusing on technology alone doesn’t make much sense. There are people all around your organization who are very smart and informed about marketplace trends, competitive companies, the latest marketing strategies, and lots more.
So instead of setting up a program of bottom-up reverse mentoring, why not start an initiative to discover the big experts in your company in different knowledge areas, and have them teach what they know to everyone else? Why be limited by a possibly flawed assumption that your youngest employees know more than everybody else?
Too-Small Idea: Everybody Is Entitled to an Opinion
When this thinking takes hold in an organization – and some communications experts seem to favor it – the result is that everyone is supposed to accord a lot of attention to other people’s opinions, even reverence.
But are people really entitled to opinions? Don’t they really have to earn the right to opinions by researching, thinking and developing ideas until they become defensible and excellent? People are not entitled to opinions, they have to earn them.
And when people state opinions them as though they were facts, they can cripple a free flow of researched, justifiable ideas. One antidote to this problem is to get in the habit of saying, “In my opinion . . .” before voicing any of your ideas that are only opinions, not facts. Doing so will encourage exploration, development and true collaboration.
Another strategy is to stay alert for times when others are expressing their opinions as if they were facts. If someone says, for example, “That marketing idea won’t work” you can say, “Are you stating a fact or an opinion?” and open up a more sophisticated exploration of the topic at hand.
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About Evan Hackel
Evan Hackel, the creator of the Ingaged Leadership concept, is a recognized business and franchise expert and consultant. Evan is also a professional speaker and author.
Evan is Principal and Founder of Ingage Consulting, a consulting firm headquartered in Woburn, Massachusetts. A leader in the field of training as well, Evan serves as CEO of Tortal Training, a Charlotte North Carolina-based firm that specializes in developing and implementing interactive training solutions for companies in all sectors.