Cultivating Effective Communication, Part 2

This discussion of communication continues with four more principles common to successful contact centers. You can read the first part of this discussion here.

shutterstock_188461451 comm2Develop Formal and Informal Channels of Communication. Effective leaders cultivate both formal and informal channels of communication. But the mission and values being communicated remain consistent. The communication formats can include newsletters, meetings, visual displays, email, voicemail, posters, wikis and internal forums, and informal “hallway meetings.” One of the formal means of communication between frontline workers and management is employee satisfaction surveys. As part of the process, the best contact centers involve agents in addressing problems, and they close the loop by consistently communicating progress toward resolving issues.

Ensure that Structure and Policies Support Communication. In general, flatter, more collaborative organizations help to foster an environment in which trust and communication flourish. Policies and procedures can also influence trust and communication. For example, monitoring and coaching programs that truly contribute to the growth and well-being of individuals and the organization help to build trust and encourage communication.

Listen Actively and Regularly. Listening encourages diverse perspectives, enables individuals to grow, and creates community within the organization. Active listening enables a culture that brings out the best in people. Further, many studies on the subjects of leadership and strategy have shown the visions of some of history’s greatest leaders actually came from others in their circles. The leaders may have selected the best vision to focus on, then shaped it and communicated it to others in a compelling way, but they rarely originated the vision.

Don’t Overdo It. Experienced leaders are aware of an interesting paradox: too much communicating inhibits effective communication. There is an optimal level of communication beyond which more communication becomes counterproductive. Too many meetings, memos, conferences, email messages and on-the-fly discussions may be symptoms of weaknesses in plans and processes. With better tools, more focused training and appropriate levels of empowerment, the need for excessive real-time communicating can be avoided — because the communication is built into individual understanding and established processes.

This post is part 2 of a 2-part series. You can read part 1 here.

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