Want to Produce? Straight Talk Gets You There

When there’s a big mistake in business — or just about anything — the autopsy of the failure usually reveals this fatal flaw: a communication breakdown. 

The instructions were ambiguous, or someone misunderstood what was being asked, or someone was never told what needed to happen. “Well, you never said…” If this line is ever uttered, your communication processes aren’t optimal.  

Good business starts with straightforward communication flowing in all directions. This doesn’t happen without planning and careful thought. 

So if you want to boost your productivity, first make sure your communication channels are clear. Remember, clogged pipes are where stink happens. Your communication is your business’s infrastructure. Make sure it works. Without that, any additions are just more stress on a faulty system. 

Here are some tips on maintaining a clean flow of communication: 


  • Establish the primary aim: Make your business’s overarching objective clear to everyone involved in your organization. You can then steer every matter back to that objective: Does this serve the primary aim? Unless this is clear, you’ll end up with people working at cross-purposes.
  • Create routines of feedback: This goes two ways. Management needs to hear from workers, and vice versa. Without this, employees will continue to make mistakes, and employers won’t understand the new challenges their workers face. Set a schedule for when these sessions happen. Ensure employees understand this is not adversarial but a function of business health. Their voices matter and are essential to the company’s health. Consider ways to bring levity to this session. Be praiseworthy in equal measure to your criticism.
  • Challenge your assumptions: One of the easiest ways to err is to assume others understand what you do. That’s frequently not the case. They often don’t. Therefore, it’s wise to reiterate some obvious facts, as reminders for the old-timers and as learning lessons for the newcomers. We often become so ingrained in our thought patterns that we develop blindness to other perspectives, which aren’t necessarily up to speed with our own. When mistakes happen because of this, it can be easy to jump on the person at fault. Part of the blame is often on us because we didn’t communicate what they needed to hear.
  • Be clear about urgency: It’s easy to put off an email for later when you’re juggling many tasks at once. That’s why you need a label system for your communications. Preface urgent messages with “URGENT,” but don’t overuse this. Not all communication is of equal value, but when it matters, signal that it’s of immediate concern. When it’s not urgent, give a timeframe of when you want a response, such as “Please respond by Friday.”
  • Create a glossary for your jargon: All industries have their catalog of acronyms and jargon. Your business has its vocabulary, and newcomers are expected to come in and learn that language. Why not make it easier for them? Create a glossary of terms, acronyms, and phrases your business uses. This glossary will also help you better define what you mean.
  • Listen, then repeat: When you receive important information, listen with all of your focus, then paraphrase what you heard back to the speaker to make sure they see you understand them. This is particularly effective in moments of conflict. Sometimes being understood is the primary desire in a complaint.
  • Make every “ask” clear: Put the action up front in any written correspondence seeking action. What is your “ask?” Don’t beat around the bush. Make it immediately clear. Briefly explain why it’s needed. Give bullet points on what needs to happen and the timeframe for action. Finish with gratitude to the reader for understanding the importance of the ask and taking action.

At HireSmart, we constantly work to sharpen our communication skills. We work with our virtual employees to ensure they meet our client’s expectations in communications. This skill is number one in our book. Without this, their other attributes can’t shine. So we hire only the best communicators, and then we help them understand the specific needs of our clients. 

These virtual employees are not just great communicators. They’re kind people as well.  

“We’re all like a mini work family,” said Lori, a real estate executive with a HireSmart virtual employee team. “We all keep in touch and say good morning every day. We all care about each other. On my birthday, they put together a birthday card for me where they all said one word that describes me, and that was probably the best birthday present because they’re so kind and helpful and just good people.” 

If you want to talk about improving your business, I’d be thrilled to hear from you and discuss ways we can help. Click to schedule a time convenient for you, and let’s chat!  

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