Cultivating Effective Communication, Part 1

Communication creates meaning and direction for people. When good communication is lacking, the symptoms are predictable: conflicting objectives, unclear values, misunderstandings, lack of coordination, confusion, low morale and people doing the bare minimum required.

Although cultures and communication styles vary, there are predictable and notable commonalities among successful contact centers. Among the most important are:

Commit to Keeping People in the Know. Leaders of high-performance organizations are predisposed to keeping their people in the know. They actively share both good news and bad. This minimizes the rumor mill, which hinders effective, accurate communication. It also contributes to an environment of trust. It sounds simple, but just making a commitment is the first step. I know of a manager who decided to make great communication a top priority. She literally includes it as an item on her daily task list — and her commitment is working wonders for productivity and clarity in the organization.

Cultivate a Supporting Culture. One of the most distinguishable aspects of a positive culture is that the contact center’s vision, mission and impact on the rest of the organization are well known and understood. Why does the center exist? What is it working to achieve? What’s in it for customers and for the organization? What’s in it for employees? Take steps to build employee commitment to the vision. Get their input as it’s being developed, then publish it, live by it. Use it to guide tactical, day-to-day decisions.

Establish Appropriate Communication Tools. A pre-requisite to an environment in which communication thrives is that individuals and teams have compatible and capable communications technologies. The usual channels apply — instant messaging, internal collaboration and conferencing tools, email, phone, conferencing capabilities, and other tools offer enormous potential if they are available and compatible across the organization. Further — and this is so simple but so effective — have easy-to-access online directories for your contact center and cross-functional teams. This provides necessary information, and it creates symbolism that reinforces communication and camaraderie.

This post is part 1. The next post will include four more communication principles.

Excerpt from “Call Center Management on Fast Forward” by Brad Cleveland.