Put soft skills into a search engine and the number of results will surprise you with how large it is. “Soft skills” or “human skills” are neither a new concept nor a skill set that can be automated. Similarly, it should it be no surprise that if leaders in your organisation were lacking in these before the Work From Home (#WFH) explosion that that situation has not changed dramatically! There are some exceptions to this, of course but generally many organisations are searching for ways to improve their communication and engagement pieces particularly from company leaders.
Regardless of where the team are, home or office, the fundamentals of communication remain the same:
- Think about what do you need to communicate?
- The more important the message the more preparation needs to go into this stage. Make notes, practice, try to think of questions that may be asked (if you are going to take questions), how long do you have, what image/resources do you have and what do they say?
- Who do you need to communicate it to?
You’d be surprised how little effort goes into this stage! Have you ever felt that you were simply going to meetings about how many meetings you were having? Professor Bill Schiano made the point recently that with work from home we, as communicators, are now competing with a person’s ‘whole life’ to hold their attention so you need to be on point all the time. If your communication is optional for some groups tell them that, if it is closed to a particular group tell them that as well.
- How are you going to say it? What medium will you use?
Sometimes it is more how are you going to listen rather than what are you going to say. Both require you to apply strategy to the medium used. This is the point that should tie the previous two together for every and any communication. If you are using video conferencing is the expectation to have the camera on for all participants? Why/why not? Will this communication be better written? If so, what does that mean? Letter (yes, they still exist), email, chat and/or text? Or all of them? What are the implications of the medium? Just look at the problems that exist for Organisations with social media platforms and poorly thought outposts from employees prior to #WFH boom with the associated move team platforms.
Communication is a skill that can be learned, taught, practiced and improved. Like all skills there is nothing soft about the journey to mastery or the guarantee to get it right every time!