communication in the workplace greg bustin

Your Organization’s Circles

May 27th, 2014  | 

Published in Leadership

Human beings crave communication.

Knowing this, we still miss the mark.

Recently, a not-for-profit organization announced the resignation of a popular leader.

For some, the move was expected and the announcement came as no surprise.

For most, however, the move came out of nowhere and the announcement was accompanied by shock, suspicion and a sense of loss.

When it comes to communication in the workplace, view your organization as a series of concentric circles.

In the middle of the circle is the leader. If this is you, your communication of a key decision is like a pebble dropped into a calm pond that causes ripples.

The first small ripple is the inner circle. These leaders help shape the decision, discuss how to communicate it, and – at the very least – are aware of the decision and the reasons behind it before a public announcement.

The second ripple is the next level of leaders. In the case of the not-for-profit organization, leaders in this ripple were committee chairs who had some context for the decision.

The third ripple is larger still. It’s comprised of engaged people who may have some informal connection to the people in the first, second or third circles they can turn to for clarification.

The fourth ripple is far removed from the leader. Without frequent, consistent communication in multiple forms, big decisions have the potential to be misunderstood and, in some cases, opposed.

Big decisions send big ripples through your organization.

Just because you say something once doesn’t mean people heard you. Tell your story again and again. And again. Be consistent.

Use this rule of thumb: Just when you’re sick of saying something is about the time your colleagues are starting to get it.

About the Author: Greg Bustin advises leaders of some of the world’s most admired companies, and he’s dedicated a career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of hundreds of companies in a range of industries. He’s facilitated more than 200 strategic planning sessions, and he’s delivered more than 500 keynotes and workshops on five continents. His fifth leadership book—How Leaders Decide: A Timeless Guide to Making Tough Choices—examines 52 of history’s greatest triumphs and tragedies and debuted in April as the #1 new historical reference book on Amazon.

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