Communication the Key to Success

Everyone knows the three most important rules for success in real estate are "location, location, location!" In the kitchen and bath industry, the three most important rules for success are "communication, communication, communication!"

For communication to have impact or to be successful, there must be a complete cycle. The sender transmits the information to the receiver. The receiver then confirms acceptance and comprehension of the message.

Businesses have lots of messages being sent, but not all of the information is received and not all of the information is understood. Unless there is a complete communication cycle, there is no dialogue and dialogue ensures that we are interacting with others to reach a shared meaning. When you communicate in a positive and respectful manner and environment, the highest level of dialogue can be reached.

Listening is the most important tool available to ensure that you are communicating completely to reach the shared meaning through dialogue. This shared meaning is the essence of communication and must be achieved if you are to be a successful manager.

You need to ask yourself how effective your company is at communicating with employees. Which of the following does your company use on a regular basis: Written memos to employees, written memos posted on the employee bulletin board, post-it notes with quick messages, messages in pay envelopes, voice mail, e-mail, company newsletters, employee handbooks, job descriptions, performance evaluations, weekly staff meetings, policy and procedures manuals, individual employee meetings. If you don't use most of these items, you should seriously consider defining or refining your company's communication strategy. It's the combination of all of these, and more, that facilitates better communication.

Your successful communication strategy should include vehicles such as these that have clearly defined systems to deliver the messages, which allows for clarification and verification while confirming receipt of the message by all of the employees.

So, what can you do to ensure that you have a message not only sent and received, but also understood? Ask simple questions like "Did you understand?" "What did you hear me say?" "What is your understanding of what we just discussed?" This can be done verbally or in writing, but it needs to be done.

Positive Interaction
When an organization uniformly employs positive, constructive communication, it sends a consistent message. The firm is indicating that all communication within the company is based on respect for the individual and an honest appreciation of everyone's value and contribution to the efforts of the company.

Your communication strategy should support, encourage and reinforce the mission and culture of your kitchen and bath firm. Following are some simple steps every member of every organization can do to ensure positive, healthy communication interactions:

  • Help others to be right.
  • Whenever possible have fun.
  • Behave with enthusiasm.
  • Figure out ways for new ideas to work.
  • Act with initiative.
  • Be bold and courageous take a chance.
  • Help others be successful.
  • Maintain a positive attitude.
  • Don't believe or repeat gossip.
  • Speak positively about others.
  • If you don't have anything positive to say, don't say anything.

It really is very simple for you to begin demonstrating these basic principles at your place of business. Here are a few more pointers:

1. Only verbally acknowledge actions and behaviors that are positive and productive.

2. When speaking to individuals, give brief, clear statements to capture their attention. Try not to engage in a conversation unless you really have something important to say.

3. Whenever possible, ask open-ended questions that allow your communication partner to talk to you. Then, once you have asked the question listen, listen, listen!

4. When someone mentions an idea that may sound a bit odd, ask "Oh, how would that actually work?" rather than "Oh, we tried that years ago and it didn't work."

5. When you become engaged in conversation with another person, allow them to complete the full thought before responding.

6. Whenever possible, rephrase what you just heard to ensure that you are really communicating.

7. Allow yourself to recognize the importance of the topic or information to the speaker. Demonstrate to the person that you value and respect their contribution.

Implementing Ideas
There are numerous communication ideas that may help you create a stronger and more vibrant company. But, it's imperative that the ideas you utilize be reflective of you and your style. Following are a few options:

  • Management by Walking Around. This is especially effective for kitchen and bath managers who are actively engaged in the day-to-day activities of the business. Walk around and look for opportunities to make positive comments and/or receive input and feedback.
  • Brainstorming Sessions. This employs the idea of getting your employees together to talk about challenging opportunities or problems. When people see that their ideas aren't critiqued or ridiculed, they'll put forth even more good thought.
  • Suggestion Box. Don't laugh. It can work if done properly. Bring every suggestion from the box to the staff. Discuss them openly.
  • Meetings. Remember, a meeting without an agenda and a good facilitator can be deadly. It's absolutely critical for everyone to know and understand why they are attending a meeting, what will be discussed and what the outcome is intended to be.

In summary, make quality and consistent communication a given responsibility for all members of your team, and don't forget to thank people for a job well done and for efforts expended.