Internal communication isn’t always given its due course inside accounting firms. Firms often forget about the importance of effective communication and then wonder why an initiative fails. In our work with clients, we’ve identified a few trends. Here are 5 common internal communication mistakes and what you can do to correct them.
Not communicating enough.
Once is not enough. Let me repeat that, once is not enough. Often, communication fails because the message has not been reinforced. Unfortunately, we are lucky if we retain 25% of what we hear. State key messages multiple times to ensure saturation. It may feel like you are overdoing it, but retention is linked to spaced repetition. Want to go a step further in one-on-ones? Enforce the 50/50 rule. Meeting recaps are a great way to ensure the message communicated was the message heard.
Using only one method of communication.
Humans learn and process information in different ways. When we communicate, we often forget that different methods have value in helping to get our message across. Emails won’t work for everyone. Face-to-face conversations, videos, and other forms of communication may reach people more effectively than written memos. Getting your employee’s attention is difficult. Be sure to enlist a handful of tactics in order to get your message across.
Undervaluing what you don’t communicate.
When we withhold information, intentionally or not, we give people the opportunity to ad-lib; and when people assume, they tend to jump to some pretty crazy conclusions. What you don’t communicate speaks louder than what you do communicate. Take a common scenario in an accounting firm. A particular employee is no longer with the company. If information is not shared (e.g., not meeting performance expectations vs. the individual chose to leave) people might assume the firm isn’t doing well or fear they might find themselves on the chopping block.
Not including the right people.
Sometimes, we inadvertently leave out the right or most important people. Make sure you have the right messages going to the right people. For example, if you need to change how you reimburse your independent contractors, don’t send the email to your full-time employees.
Using 20 words when 2 will do.
Don’t add too much fluff. Brevity is key when communicating clear messages.
Communication is a key leadership skill. Learning how to communicate will help you build trust and a better culture. If you need help honing your communication skills, reach out to one of our consultants at firstname.lastname@example.org.