Employees, customers and anyone related to your business need to know three things: what needs doing right now, to improve it and where you are leading to longer term. And they need it repeated consistently and constantly. It is one of the key characteristics of good leadership.
My Dad ran his own business and it was pretty successful until sadly he died far too young to realise both his own and his business’s full potential. I remember a few things he said, not least whilst working in his business to earn some extra money whilst a high school student. One of those is that you need to keep your messages simple, consistent and repeated even if you vary the tone and the supporting content a little each time.
It was only three decades later, during my own career, that I realised that he had and that I had found the same formula in my own communication with both my staff, customers and the outside world with only a difference in emphasis depending upon which group I was speaking to.
At the most immediate we all need to know what it is that we have to get right now – how to succeed at the task at hand. In other words clarity as to what is required of us at the moment for our own and our organisations immediate survival. But whilst we are trained for that and often have to focus on delivery in the immediate it is hardly inspiring of itself. So the second thing that leaders communicate is what needs improving in the realisable future. In business that maybe an improvement in products or service outputs or alternatively how to get more done with less. These are the challenges of incremental improvement which after all is the challenge placed on most employees and staff – how to improve.
But ultimately what inspires people is a sense of higher purpose. Missions statements as the wallpaper of corporate receptions are thankfully mostly in the waste bins and shredders of these very same organisations that strove to create them I the first place. But what is not is the need for inspiration for staff and customers alike.
For staff to feel signed up to an organisation with a sense of purpose is stimulating and encouraging to stay put and deliver even if that may not necessarily yield personal tangible reward; it guides. For customers, it provides clarity as to what you are about it provides a sense of clarity which likely will underpin real benefits such as better service, reliability and economic advantage. The purpose is the visible product of active and engaged leadership and it provides comfort and support to the wider business relationship.
Look around at the businesses and organisations you respect, large and small, locally, nationally and internationally. They are working hard to get it right today, they know where they are looking to improve things tomorrow but most importantly they know where they are trying to get to in the future and their leaders communicate it internally, externally and consistently.
My Dad spent his time wisely and if he were around today I reckon he and I would agree pretty much about what messages to give both inside and outside our respective organisations.
The Author, Rob Andrew Manley is an experienced Management Consultant and Business Doctor for London. If you could benefit from a Free of Charge Business Health Check, feel free to contact Rob Andrew on:
Mobile: 07854 872474