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Think Well, Think Different: 5 Reasons Why The Velocity Of Communication Dictates Your Company's Success


Think Well, Think Different is a series of columns devoted to discussing trends in fintech, both from the consumer and founder points of view. Click here for previous columns. 

It’s the decision whether or not to text the team with that rumor you picked up at a conference about a competitor. It’s the ability to get information quickly to leadership. It’s the random hallway conversation that reveals another team has been working on a similar project creating redundancy and opportunity. It’s how quickly decisions are made.

The biggest change in business, thanks to technology, has been the speed of the game and the velocity of communication. If the speed of the game is deciding winners and losers, the velocity of communication is your playbook. It’s about pace and process.

A leader can establish the culture of an organization based on how he or she treats communication. Voicemails are returned within 24 hours. E-mails are covered by a peer when a team member is out of office. Meeting recaps are sent out promptly after the meeting concludes. Announcements are prepared, edited and sent out with preparation and care. These are not the policies that guarantee success; simply illustrative examples of policies that set a specific tone.

Communication is not just core to culture, it is a game-changer, the equivalent of playing offense and defense simultaneously. As a result, it can also be difficult to strike the proper balance. Too aggressive and a team is liable to become overwhelmed and burned out. Too passive and relevant information is delayed or dismissed.

Consider these five ways that the velocity of communication can transform your team or your business:

Creates a sense of urgency. Reinforcing (or setting) the expectations for communication will drive intensity across the organization. The challenge is balancing intensity with tension. Intensity is good. Tension is bad. The atmosphere must be intense to drive urgency and productivity, but should not be tense to the point where decision-making and priorities are set out of fear or risk aversion. Use the criticality of information to underscore the right amount of intensity for your business…just don’t go too far.

Competitive advantage. Imagine the potential when the entire team is communicating with the same information along the same strategy. Consider the sales, operations, and service at a typical car dealership. Many people working together on new product enhancements or features, scheduling existing product service, and maintain the logistics of the facility. The velocity of communication determines efficiency, customer satisfaction, and facility safety. Whether the competitive advantage is immediate because information received is actionable to move against the competition or because over time relevant communication breeds excellence which dominates the competition, the velocity of communication is the differentiator.

Better decision making. Jonathan Bellack of Jigsaw has said it can take 18 months for a 6-month project to fail. The first few months of a failed project are spent floundering on unexpected obstacles or running into general delays. The team asks for “more time” or “another chance” to get it right. The next few months are about “getting the project back on track.” Around a year in, leadership goes about changing the people or leaders only to have those leaders find out later that it isn’t going to work. Suddenly it’s 18 months later and there still is not anything to show for the effort. Team members open and willing to elevate information can avoid waste. A culture of communication also ensures more information and perspective throughout the decision-making process.

Aids in personnel evaluation and review. Oftentimes, annual or semi-annual reviews involve a leader reflecting back on notes or experiences from the previous year. Team members who are plugged in and communicating relevant, timely information with a sense of urgency will be rewarded. When considering how to make oneself “the obvious choice” for opportunities, young team members can focus on how they communicate – email, text and in meetings – to continue to grow. Whether or not it is something explicitly in the performance review, communication is such an implicit part of what happens in any business that it is being “reviewed” by your leadership.

Improves all other aspects of your business. Driving urgency in the tempo of communication will have ancillary benefits. For starters, highlighting the velocity of communication requires everyone throughout the organization to be aware and discerning with what is circulated. The company is forced to get better.

The focus on high-quality and prompt communication gives leaders the opportunity to coach what information is considered a priority as well as create a teaching moment when it is not. Finally, when leadership leads by example, more information travels deeper throughout the organization. Team members throughout the organization feel more connected and empowered, the habits feed the culture.

Velocity builds intensity and breeds success. Communication is key to any relationship, especially those relationships that consume so much of our time each week. It is important to have a foundation of solid training and feedback on communication skills in place before focusing on speed and relevance. For most companies though, the next level is the hardest. Driving key information in the right way to the right leader requires strategic thinking, judgment and discipline – the same qualities as a highly successful business.

Posted-In: contributor contributorsEntrepreneurship Psychology Opinion Success Stories Startups General


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