Politics has been moving fast (if in circles) today in the UK.

Please don’t mention the B word!

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Don’t worry, that isn’t the theme of today’s blog. What all of the political circus has served to highlight is the importance of both interpretation and common understanding, be that across a continent, across the green benches or across an organisation. And the key to achieving that? Effective communication.

If you want your organisation to implement a particular project, value or culture, you need everyone in your business to really understand that thing, and feel a sense of ownership of it or belonging to it.

How do I achieve that?

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What you shouldn’t do is just publish a party line and hope that everyone will follow it. (Just turn on the news to see how well that works…) And you shouldn’t assume that everyone will magically understand what you think that form of words means. (Ditto the news…)

So what should I do?

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There are three simple steps to make sure that you are fostering common understanding in your organisation.

  1. Consult your people
    If you want you people to be onboard with your new initiative, involve them in the creation process. Maybe the finance team have some creative ideas about the allocation of funds that could help form a better plan. Maybe marketing are already overloaded, and will resent a new heap of work being dumped on them. Maybe the delivery team are already developing a new approach. Your company is full of specialists. Bring them together to share that expertise. Being consulted (and really listened to) will bring a sense of ownership.
  2. Discuss, don’t dictate
    This is particularly important if, for whatever reason, you can’t do step 1. Nobody wants to come to work to find a booklet of the latest values on their desk, accompanied by nothing more than the assumption that you will immediately adopt them (if you even bother to read them). Introduce your new thing with a conversation. Don’t tell your staff what it is, ask what it means to them. Share ideas. Think together about application, problems, solutions.
  3. Give time and make space
    No successful change happens overnight. People need time to absorb new ideas, understand what they mean and then apply them. And they need time to discuss and to question. Make time and space for this in a non-combative atmosphere.

Lizzie Evans - Learning Consultant, Rhizome Live

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