Why Good Communication Matters

I’m really hard pressed to think of a situation where a leader could over communicate. I suppose it’s those situations similar to when a follower might ask what time it is and the answer includes the history of watch making. I don’t think there are actually many leaders who do that.

 

In my experience it’s far more likely that a leader will under-communicate than over-communicate.

 

It really isn’t necessary to provide more information to a member of your organization than they need to be successful. It is however vital that they have every last drop of information available when it’s relevant to whatever it is they have been tasked with doing. 

 

There are many reasons a leader might under-communicate but a big one is that too many leaders believe that information is power. That’s not actually how it works. The fact is, applied information is power and that information cannot be applied until it is shared. 

 

Leaders who withhold information from their people, for whatever reason, are not helping anyone, least of all themselves. A leader’s success is dependent upon the success of their people and without information their people are less likely to be successful.

 

Information is the enemy of rumor. People have this spot inside them that must be filled with information, if their leaders don’t fill it they will fill it themselves. Rumors are great filler! The trouble with rumors is that they are far too often wrong, filled with productivity killing miss-information. 

 

That’s why well thought out, meaningful and consistent communication matters so much.

 

If you’re a leader who doesn’t like rumors then stop them with information, correct, useful, and needed information.

 

Sometimes people at the top of an organization forget how invested their people are in the business. Your people want to know how the organization is doing, they want to know where they “fit.” They NEED to know they matter and that what they do is importance to the overall health of the organization. 

 

If you’re a leader then you have information that has the potential to super-charge your people. Don’t keep it a secret, don’t think being the only person who knows it makes you more important. Share the information and trust your people to use it to the benefit of the team. 


If you’re truly a leader that’s exactly what they will do. 

Information is the Enemy of Rumor

I’ve never met a leader who likes hearing rumors flying around the halls of their organization. I have however met many people in leadership positions who somehow believe that knowledge is power. 

Eliminating rumors and believing that holding information closely makes someone powerful are two competing interests. 

Authentic Servant Leaders understand that knowledge is only powerful when it is shared with those who can act on it. They understand that knowing something that someone else does not won’t make them more powerful. It simply makes them solely responsible to use the information in a productive way.

If you’re a leader who doesn’t like rumors then you should be sharing as much information as is  legally and ethically possible with your followers. Withholding information from your people does not make you a stronger leader but it is likely to make your people weaker and less productive followers. 

Here’s why…. information is the enemy of rumor! 

As humans we have this basic need for information about things that are important to us. Your people may not hold as lofty a position as you in your organization but their job is a huge source of their security. As such they want and need to know what’s going on with the organization that employs them. Absent real information they will fill their need to know with rumor and misinformation. 

When an organization and it’s leadership communicates openly with their people the information void is filled and rumormongering goes way down.

There are few things in business that limit growth and productivity more than rumors. Communication improves productivity.

It’s true that for a variety of reasons everything that happens in an organization cannot and should not be shared with everyone. It’s also true that in many organizations far more can be shared than is. 

If you don’t like rumors then block them with information. Ask yourself exactly why you’re holding back information from your people and if you discover you have no valid reason for not sharing it then share by every means possible.  

You’ll have happier, more committed and more productive people as a result. You’ll also have a whole lot less rumors.

 

How to Build a Rumor Factory

Most companies, managers, and leaders are not a fan of rumors. The most effective “creators” of rumors are companies, managers, and leaders. 

That’s an interesting contradiction and it happens because those three entities fail to realize this one key fact: information is the enemy of rumor.

Let me give you one example. 

The owners of a small company are very protective of their company. They have invested perhaps years of sweat and toil to achieve whatever level of success they have. There are “things” that only they can know, “secrets” that must be kept from “the employees.” They rightfully take great pride in their success and while they say their people are their greatest asset you might be hard-pressed to see that sentiment in action. They also hate, hate, hate rumors about their company. They hate it even more when those rumors start from within the company.

The employees however feel as if it’s their company too. They too have invested their time and energy into making the company a success. They want to know “stuff” about their company; things like it’s vision, future plans, maybe even how it’s doing financially. Actually, it’s more than wanting to know, they need to know, their future is tied to the company almost as much as the owners. 

So this gap exists in the organization, the gap between what the owners want their people to know and what their people believe they need to know. That gap will be filled! It will either be filled with accurate information or it will be filled with rumors.

The withholding of even basic information of any kind creates rumors. Poor managers and leaders mistakenly believe that knowledge is power; that’s just not right. Applied knowledge is power and no knowledge can be applied until it is shared.

When you withhold the information your people need to feel as if they are a vital part of the organization, then you, yes you, build a rumor factory.

If you’re a manager or leader and you don’t like rumors then you had best learn to communicate more effectively. You had better learn to share information that your people need to know. When you hold information that could help your people understand their role in the company you create rumors. When you fail to share your thoughts and ideas about the future of the company you create rumors. 

Rumors are created out of a basic human need for information. Information is the enemy of rumor, if you don’t like rumor then fill that basic human need with real information. 

Almost all information currently held tight by managers and leaders could be shared with their teams with no, zero, nada, negative consequences. So share it!

Now, a caveat… There is information that needs to be kept private. “HR Stuff” for instance. For publicly held companies financial information and reports cannot be released to employees before they are available to investors. I don’t think any right-minded person would expect that kind of information to be shared. 

Authentic leaders don’t let those those regulations get in the way of sharing every bit of information they can legally share. While some people think that information is power, authentic leaders know that shared information is powerful. 

Let go of the information and grow your people, and your organization, today.