How Good Is Your Boss: Day 2: Communication - Message Received or Mayhem Resumed?; in the Second Part of a Four-Day Series, Management Consultant and Author Dr Nigel MacLennan Tells How to Assess Your Boss on His or Her Communication Management Skills. What Is Communication like in Your Organisation? State of the Art? Two Way? One Way? No Way?

Article excerpt

Byline: Dr Nigel MacLennan

Yesterday we asked what are the key responsibilities of a chief executive? In whichever order you prioritise them the word central to delivering all of any CEO's responsibilities is communication, and in advanced companies, the phrase is communication management.

How important is communication in the leadership of an organisation? Sometimes the best way to show the importance of something is to demonstrate what happens when it is absent.

Just how much damage can poor communication do to a company? Hold on to your seat, this will shock you. In study after study, conducted in every Western economy over the last 50 years, researchers have found that around 80 per cent of all problems in all organisations can be attributed directly to poor or absent communication.

In practice that means that four out of every five problems in your organisation are caused by poor communication. Rarely in any field of life do we find all problems so strongly related to one cause. It presents both a problem and an opportunity. By improving communication in your organisation just a little you can see a huge return. Imagine the payback if you improved communication by 50 per cent. You could wipe out two in five of the organisation's problems. The best chief executives know that, and act on it. To demonstrate just how important communication is to good leadership answer the following questions. If you were running a business would you have a business plan? Of course. If you were running a marketing department would you have a marketing plan? Of course you would. If you were running an HR department would you have an HR plan? You would indeed.

So, if you spent 80-95 per cent of your time communicating (as all CEOs and directors do) would you have a communication plan? Of course you would, but fewer than 1 in 1,000 CEOs even know what one looks like.

Contrast that with the world's best. Great bosses find the idea of trying to lead without a communication plan as bizarre as trying to live without breathing. To them, managing a company without managing its internal communication is just career suicide. Time toassess if your CEO is breathing. If the answer to any question is 'I don't know' that indicates you should score 0 - the fact that you don't know tells you everything you need to know about your CEO's communication effectiveness.

Does your CEO have a communication plan for managing the communications necessary to run the organisation well? Score 0-10Does every director in your organisation have a communication plan to run their function well? Score 0-10Does every manager in your organisation have a communication plan with which to run their department or section? Score 0-10 In most companies there is a huge amount of staff time wasted. There are many reasons for time being wasted, but one of the most prevalent is that staff do not have information that they reasonably think they ought to have to do their jobs. They then spend time either trying to get the information that they need, or, when they can't get it, spend time chatting and speculating about what is in the minds of the organisation's leaders.

Outstanding chief executives want to ensure that staff have the information that they need and that staff don't waste valuable time.

Does your organisation have an active and declared policy of making sure that all staff have the information that they need? Score 0-10You never hear staff complaining that they don't have information in your organisation. Score 0-10 Of course it is one thing to have the information that must be provided by the organisation to do your job, but the best CEOs are aware that some information is best gathered and distributed locally.

In any organisation there are people who need to be served so that they can, in turn, serve the external customer. In the best-run organisations the CEOs insist that every member of staff knows who their internal and external customers are. …