Communication is Everything – 8 Actions Lead to Success
Effective communication between franchise owners and their team is critical for success. You, franchise owner, are your team’s leader. They look to you for answers, inspiration, and expectations. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to learn how to communicate effectively. This skill also reduces your stress if you ever wondered something like, “why won’t my team do as I ask,” or “Phil never listens to me when I ask him to be nicer to clients,” or worse yet, the rumor mill is the source for most information in your company.
There are 4 types and 6 objectives in organizational communications. Franchisees have their styles, but the basic communication types and goals remain the same.
4 Types of Communication:
- Formal and informal – Formal communication is usually thought-out, written, and filed for future reference. This information impacts your team in some way. Successful franchisees documenting, communicating, and preserving their systems is an example. Informal communication happens around the water cooler, in the break-room, or worse, it’s in the “grapevine.” This communication is misheard, translated wrong, or has many other negatives more often than not.
- The direction of communication is vital to consider. For example, is your audience your partner, a client, or your team?
- Internal versus external communication shapes the tone of your message.
- Your message can be written, oral, or a combination, and all should be consistent, concise, and clear.
6 Objectives of Communication:
- Directive communication is like Tom Brady calling a play in the Patriot’s huddle. It’s you telling your team exactly how to get something accomplished. Use this cautiously. If used too often or inappropriately, valuable input from your team goes away.
- Collaborative communication is a free-flowing conversation of ideas and adds impactful value. The successful franchisee knows they need help and seek it out. You are not an expert at everything. This objective can be leveraged in all directions when solving a specific issue or growing your business.
- Empathetic communication is simply being there when someone is having a fantastic day or one that’s amazingly bad. This conversation is more emotional and lets your team, client, or partner know you care about them. Empathetic, primarily verbal, communication is one-sided, and non-verbal communication speaks volumes from all involved.
- Informative communication teaches others something they want or need to know. Hopefully, this article is a good example.
- Successful franchisees will regularly communicate with their team on an inspirational level. Inspirational communication is Coach Luke Fickell inspiring his Cincinnati Bearcats to play the best football game of their lives 13+ times each season. You inspire your team every day. Experience has taught me that leading by example is more impactful than words.
- Passive communication is the message you convey when others watch your actions and results. It is your reputation. As a leader, don’t shy away from the spotlight. Successful Franchisees use this to strengthen their team’s confidence in their leadership.
8 Strategies for Impactful Communication
The following strategies for effective communication are not the end-all. However, they are a start to positively impactful communication with all who influence the success of your business.
Evaluate and define the context of your assumptions. What the speaker may gloss over as “obvious” could be a key point for the listener. Assumptions can be challenging to identify. “Unspoken rules” in an organization need to be clearly defined.
Speaking simply and using plain language helps alleviate assumptions. Warren Buffett said, “Never invest in a business you cannot understand.” The same is true for your communications. The best leaders I’ve worked for and with can transform the complex into simple concepts for all to understand.
Intentionally reduce distractions.
Communicate regularly with everyone in your organization, so it’s routine. Pete won’t get overly anxious when you stop by his area to talk. Regular emails, tweets, and even YouTube messages help keep your team engaged and less distracted by the anxiety of wonder.
Choose the appropriate setting. Whether you’re communicating with your whole team or one-on-one with your GM, choose where to share with the least distractions.
Have systems in all directions within your franchise for communication that requires immediate attention. For example, Alcoa’s Paul O’Neil had a company vision to reduce workplace accidents to zero. So systems were established to notify him personally no matter when a lost-time accident occurred.
Intend to understand by listening 3x’s more than you speak.
In one-on-one or small group settings where you are trying to discover something, focus on listening and be in the moment. Your ability to focus takes practice. The challenge is not to have other thoughts while someone is speaking, including thinking about the next question.
Listening with the intent to understand will allow your team to find their solutions. Acknowledge the speaker and ask open-ended questions to understand better. Yes/no questions shut down conversations.
Pauses in conversations are often valuable. It gives the listener time to form their following statement or question. Rapidly paced back and forth communication is nothing more than 2 competing monologues.
Effective communication is usually two-way. Ask open-ended questions and allow time for the response when developing an idea. Open-ended questions lead to more profound answers.
Asking pertinent questions lets the other know you are listening.
Focus on objective behaviors to temper emotions. This skill is difficult. Everyone has their personality. Successful Franchisees focus communication on objective behaviors that are both beneficial and those needing correction. Personal attacks stop two-way communication and can’t be tolerated in your business.
Reducing frustrations allows open communication. Acknowledge these at the beginning and any that may arise during the conversation. When there’s no way to avoid emotions, it’s best to use an approach like “it makes me feel ___ when you ___.” Feelings are acknowledged, and the communication focuses back on objective behaviors.
Observe what isn’t said and how you and your audience are saying it. You do not need to be a micro-facial expert to be able to read your audience. Engagement or lack of is easy to notice in larger groups. You can read a few individuals’ expressions and see your communication’s overall effect on the group. A franchisee can dig deeper into body language, posture, hand/arm gestures, and facial expressions in smaller groups.
Look for common ground when dealing with conflicts and build. For those situations with extra tensions and emotions, have an escape plan and allow a cooling-off period before resuming.
Practice and ask for feedback. Impactful communication is a skill with a shelf-life. Take one of these skills and make a conscious effort to practice. Ask for feedback on your progress. In time, practical and impactful communication will be commonplace for you and your team.
Make a plan to improve your communication skills. Then, step-by-step positive results will happen for you and your team.
Luke Frey improves franchise owners’ businesses where corporate support alone fails. He brings 26+ years of varied professional experiences including 20 years as a franchise owner of ImageFIRST Cincinnati, 6 years as an industrial engineer for a Fortune 250 company (3 while living in Honduras, C.A.) and 19 years as a volunteer firefighter. All of these experiences, in addition to his drive to learn, have brought him to be a positive driving force for other franchise owners’ successes. Luke is currently a member of the Center for Executive Coaching and is in the final publishing phase of his first children’s book. To learn more about Luke and how Bella Vista Executive Advisors can help, please click HERE www.bellavistaexecutiveadvisors.com