A lot of our work with clients boils down to one topic: effective communication. This isn’t news to most of you, but it I consistently hear that message. You have so many things to manage every day, but you repeatedly mention communication as a constant challenge and, when it happens well, as an occasion for celebrating improvement.
When our peer groups convene, we often start with operation updates and current challenges. After discussing the weather and crop issues of a particular season, communication – or lack thereof – is often the next topic. Particularly during a trying season with delays and stops and starts, members reflect how hard it is to keep the team organized, or they remember difficult family interactions under pressure. In my work with family businesses, I have found two keys to effective communication are the habit of regular meetings, and the successful management of those meetings.
Commit to meeting
When I work with a business, our action plan often includes regular meetings among owners, managers or employee teams. Later, when we review progress, those meetings are at the top of the list of “wins.” They recognize the value of building a forum for and habit of communication.
It may sound elementary, but this habit of meeting has a big impact on the organization. Do you have a regular forum for encouraging communication? The goal is not only to coordinate tasks, but also to discuss decisions to be made together or inform others of decisions made in each area of responsibility. Don’t you want your partners’ or team members’ insight and critical thinking to reach the best decision possible? To build this habit, a consistent day and time works best, with the commitment that you’ll connect via phone when face-to-face meetings are not possible.
Manage the process
Successfully managing the meeting is just as important as its regularity. Keep meetings productive with an agenda and a designated leader to move the discussion along. It may be as simple as updates on different areas of responsibility, but following a consistent outline provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to share information. Consider rotating leaders as an opportunity to develop facilitation skills.
If you feel you already have enough meetings, review their purpose and effectiveness and make the necessary adjustments. Most importantly, renew your commitment to effective communication. Your business and family will be better!