(An excerpt from So, What’s the Bottom Line? page 30) How do the finest leaders motivate and inspire their followers? How do the leading non-profits position themselves as worthy causes? And, how do profitable companies promote their products and services in today’s highly competitive markets?
Hearing my computer ping with the familiar sound of an incoming e-mail, I eagerly click on my inbox to see who is writing me. Maybe it’s an important client with a key piece of information? Perhaps it’s a potential new client inquiring about my services?
Sometimes, to my great disappointment, it is a piece of correspondence that bounced back due to an incorrect or incomplete e-mail address. If it’s my mistake, I can easily check it out and correct it. But what happens if the intended recipient erred and gave me a wrong address? Depending on where I met the person, it can be difficult to find his correct contact information.
America’s top executives are expected to master all of the six basic functions of management: leading, planning, organizing, staffing, controlling and communicating, says Lee Froschheiser, president and CEO of Map Consulting and coauthor of the best seller: “Vital Factors, The Secret to Transforming Your Business – And Your Life.”
While all six are vital, Froschheiser says clear communication is the golden thread that ties all of these functions together: “Think about it … how do the best leaders motivate and inspire their people? Through clear communication. How do the best organizations promote discipline, accountability and strategic alignment? With clear communication. And, how do market leaders sell their products and services? With compelling ads and marketing campaigns — in sum, by clear communication.”
Froschheiser shares some practical tips:
- Clarify the goal of the communication at the outset, plan it carefully before sending it and anticipate the receiver’s viewpoint and feelings.
- Deliver the message with conviction, relate it to your larger goals, identify the action to be taken and confirm that the other person understands.
- Be receptive. Communication is a two-way street, so keep an open mind. Value constructive feedback and use it to grow and then confirm your understanding of the other person’s correspondence.
Froschheiser addressed the highlights; now I would like to tie up some loose ends. Some may seem very basic, but even professionals such as musicians and athletes must always drill on the basics to stay in shape:
- If you are leaving a voice mail, speak clearly and be certain to leave complete contact information. Leave your full name, phone number and the approximate time that you called. Let the person know whether you would like him to return your call or whether you will call again. If you leave your contact information on a cell phone, repeat yourself if you can, in case background noise or garbled speech rendered some of your words incomprehensible.
- Don’t be hasty in shooting off an e-mail. Be your own editor. Read it over once or twice and place yourself in the recipient’s seat. Will they understand what you mean? A lot of time can be wasted on back-and-forth e-mails to clarify intentions and sometimes to smooth out misunderstandings.
Finally, use abbreviations sparingly, if at all. Not everyone knows that BTW is by the way and not the newest NYC subway line.
BOTTOM LINE ACTION STEP: Always communicate clearly.