Who needs communication?

The fundamental skill that binds all business activity together is communication.  In its simplest form this might be command and control - i.e. managers give instructions to their staff who interpret those instructions to carry out tasks. However, communication should never be considered simple.  In the command and control example there are many simultaneous threads threads that all contribute to success or failure.  For example:

  • Direction is given which needs to be detailed enough to follow
  • Context of how this task contributes to the business should be provided
  • Boundaries should be defined that state when, where and for how long the task should be carried out
  • Instructions should be given on how to complete the task properly and safely
  • Guidance should be given on what to do if something goes wrong

This list (which is by no means exhaustive) is attempting to highlight the different factors that the manager is subcontiously combining when givin an instruction to member of staff.  But we must not forget that communication, by definition, involves a transmitter and a receiver.  The manager's message is useless if it is not understood by the recipient.  So the member of staff is also subcontiously re-assembling all these elements and as a result may be interpreting them differently to the way the manager intended.

Mode of communication is also important and the same message can be interpreted very differently if received verbally or in writing. Verbal communication is much more than words sentenced together.  Tone, attitude, expression, body language and proximity are all additional factors that colour and shape how we communicate.  These factors along with the words that we choose to use and the style we adopt (casual, nasal, bossy, antipodean?) all speaks volumes about who we are as well as what we want to say. Written communication, the classic modern example being the email, is stripped of all these additional colours and often is misinterpreted as a result.  We need the additional cues and clues in order to understand the full meaning of what is being said.

The Gradin Competence Framework (GCF) accepts this complexity and assumes that all people continuously develop communications skills throughout their lives.  In a business context therefore, communication skills begin with ensuring instructions are both clearly given and correctly understood.  As people progress through the levels of competence, communication skills are developed in the context of managing teams, customers, colleagues and managers and ultimately (at level 7) are demonstrated in terms of speaking at industry conferences or being the public face of the business in the media.

So the simple answer is that we all need communication and we all need to understand what makes good communication if we want to succeed.

Why not read more about the GCF and see what it can offer your organisation.  This site provides highlights of the GCF, how it is structured and what it covers.  The guidance, tools and templates behind the theory are all available in packaged form at a price comparable to standard office software.  They can also be skinned to match an organisations branding requirements.