As much as we, in the supply chain business, know that communication is critical, we often ignore this key area. We are swamped with daily work, getting the month's sales shipped out, learning the latest technical gadget etc., and our communications go by the wayside. In my recent skills gap survey in combination with APICS Inland Empire chapter, we found communications skills to be lacking. So what are a few tips for communications success?
1. Repetition - In today's information-overloaded society, we cannot pick up on all the information we receive. If you plan to be heard, you must repeat important messages. There are varying studies; however, the bottom line is repetition is essential.
2. Varied formats - Repetition alone can just be annoying. To be successful you must vary your communication mode. Do you write it? Speak it? Illustrate it in Power Point? Hold a group meeting? Post on the website?
3. Listen first - Successful communicators listen FAR more than they talk. Do you listen carefully to what people are saying? Do you let them know you are following along? Do you paraphrase? I've found people can think I'm a master communicator when I say 5 words - solely because I've listened.
4. Talk about the whys - One of the keys to communication in the workplace is to explain WHY the topic should matter to the recipient. WIIFM! I find that when employees understand how they contribute to value, communication suddenly improves from the listener's perspective.
5. Stick to the big picture - Don't go into all sorts of details that will likely confuse meeting attendees. Stick to the big picture and impacts. Pictures and graphics will help with this objective.
6. Be succinct: Less is more.
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