Last week I started the second wave of a series of blog posts on what it takes to stop your best people from jumping ship. Today’s suggestion: open the lines of communication. By that I mean two-way communication, a dialogue, frequent conversations, easy and fluid movement of information in both directions. Communication must be a two-way street because by definition, it needs to include listening and speaking, ideally 50% of each.
So actively solicit input and listen to what your people have to say. Nobody knows what’s going on (and how to fix it) better than those who are doing it. And if you include your best people in the process, they’re invested in your organization. Which means that they’re part of the team. And it’s a lot harder to leave a team that you feel you’re an integral part of!
On the other hand, as a leader, share information freely and promptly. Even if your facts aren’t complete, let your people know whatever you know. People have this amazing capacity to accept incomplete information; it’s the absolute absence of information that causes problems. When information is lacking, people make it up, and invariably, what they make up is the worst possible scenario. Otherwise they make it up. Use the company grapevine to your advantage. Many a manager will vouch for the efficiency of the company grapevine, and since you can’t fight it, you might as well feed it: with accurate information instead of speculation and guesswork.
So … how well is open communication happening in your workplace? What’s working well, and what are the obstacles? Please share your experiences so we can learn from each other.