Communication Competencies for Business Managers and Leaders

Communication competencies are implementation and motivation goals for business managers and leaders, everywhere! Marketing, management, customer service and team work are communication playgrounds.

And only You can bring your own flavour to this challenge!

It’s been said that leadership advantage comes more from successful communication than any other factor AND THAT Successful communication takes place more in the mind and heart of the listener than in the mouth of the speaker’.

Consider this story:

John Browne phones his supplier and orders 36 boxes of materials. The order taker has a poor attitude and poorer attention skills and writes on the order sheet in his own handwriting. The six looks like a ‘zero’ with a fringe on top. The distribution department operative reads the six as a zero. John Browne receives 30 boxes six less than he ordered. The boxes had been destined for the launch of a new product in Manchester by a government minister.

(to cut a long story short) Time lost, stress to many people, extra effort and extra cost in getting the extra six boxes sent by air courier to England on time for the launch. Profit on product is halved. Potential loss of customer is increased. Loss of reputation as the story went the rounds of the distribution company, to customers, to the exhibition staff in England.

The ripple effects of a simple (scribble) mistake can be calamitous!

To the amateur, communication looks simple and is often approached with ‘reckless abandon’. To the professional communicator, it is an extremely complex process made to look easy when approached with care and a system. Business communication is a real culture issue and needs to be high up on your goal list as a manager.

In this blog posting I will outline a system to help you create communications advantage.

It’s called The PITOC Communication System. Each letter of PITOC stands for a different element of communication as follows:

The First Element of PITOC is P, Personal Mastery: All effective communications starts inside you with your own measure of your self-esteem and self-worth. How you communicate on the outside is a mirror of how you feel on the inside.

So the secret of personal communication mastery is to work harder at improving what’s going on inside your head and heart rather than what is going on outside.

As within, so without.

The persona, or mask, you present to the world, and how you are on the exterior is caused by how you are on the emotional/mental inside.

‘What you are roars at me so loudly that I can’t hear a word you are saying’ are sound words of wisdom in this area.

So make a decision and then learn how to absorb personal mastery techniques.

The Second Element of PITOC is I, Interpersonal Relationships: You probably have about half a dozen critical others’ that you interact with most of the time. How you manage these relationships will be critical to your leverage ability.

Delegation, for example, is entrusting to others key parts of your responsibilities. Long meetings are a great time waster if you can’t multiply the results through purposeful communication (a manager can spend 60% of his/her day in one form of meeting or other). Your level of social intelligence (your ability to communicate and influence to best effect) is one of the most important business/management competencies today.

No matter how good technology gets, your ability to build rapport, trust and understanding with your various stakeholders will remain one of the master skills of the 21st century.

Don’t underestimate the importance of having a face-to-face communications strategy.

Today, more and more business deals are based on intangible linkups and intellectual properties and are often held together by strong personal friendships. It is simply not good to be mediocre in this area you must learn to be a master interpersonal communicator.

And the good news is you can learn it it’s not inborn.

The Third Element of PITOC is T, Team Effectiveness: There is an old saying that ‘no individual is perfect but a team can be’. This is because of the difference that individuals bring to a team.

Vive la difference, say the French and no doubt they’re right. The problems with communication grow exponentially with the number of people on your team.

For example, if there are three people on the team the potential number of problems are three-squared i.e. nine. If there are seven people on the team, that’s 49 potential problems, and so on. One of the problems with understanding the complexity of communications within a team is the misconceptions and assumptions that the lay person has about teamwork.

Everyone has seen an excellent sports team in action and, therefore, believes that they are qualified to understand the dynamics and workings of any good team. It seems obvious what the secret of good teamwork is!

The only question is:

If teamwork is so simple and obvious, why is this magic of teamwork so illusive, to so many?


And particularly in the workplace?

The ripple effect of personal mastery and interpersonal relationships comes home to roost in any workgroup or teambuilding endeavour.

A whole new dynamic of giving and receiving feedback, speaking and presenting, and understanding team contribution is critical here. The big problem with teamwork, I believe, starts with the false view that ‘we have it’ or ‘we should automatically be doing it’.

The fact of the matter is that it’s more difficult than any other mainstream function and requires a careful approach, study and a slow-slow build-up.

The Fourth Element of PITOC is O, Organisational Development: Is it possible to get your whole organisation singing from the same hymn sheet? Is it possible to get your whole organisation (no matter how big or small) to communicate with one mindset internally and present a united communications front to your external audiences?

Of course it is!

But it takes hard work and a system. And most people never learn a communications system. Research indicates that one of the major reasons customers leave your business is because of indifference and poor communications by the staff.

Inconsistency in the moments of impression is another reason in other words ‘up-and-down’ service. The Customer Comes Second is the name of a book that caught my eye because of its apparent contradiction.

Maybe we have had too much focus on the customer?

Maybe we are forcing the issue against the tide, trying too hard, and swimming upstream (whatever term you wish) with the customer? What the ‘customer comes second’ concept means, of course, is that if we get the staff and management, in order, regarding the customer then all else will follow.

After all, what customers want is a quality product, reasonable price (not necessarily the lowest) and outstanding service. That final part is the intangible difficult-to-grasp (and deliver) bit that makes all the difference.

The Fifth Element of PITOC is C, Customer Orientation: How you communicate with your customer, today, is probably more important than the price you charge or the quality of your product. It never ceases to amaze me how companies can spend small fortunes on attracting customers into their business and then treat them with no sense of importance when they do come to do business!

Good communications and good customer service are simply not sufficient today you must deliver exceptional, outstanding customer care to create customers that come back time and time again.

Customer communication is the ultimate test of who you are (your culture),what you do (your business), and how you do it (your strategy).

You will not pick up this critical variable by having good intentions, by advertising the message, by having a good location, or even by having an exceptionally high quality product you must learn it and keep on learning it in a systematic, planned fashion.

The Impact of Effect of Cause: PITOC in Action

Let’s suppose that you are only 20% effective in your Personal mastery dimension.

My contention is that you will, then, be 20% effective in your critical Interpersonal relationships.

Your contribution in a Team will be 20% and, ultimately, the whole Organisation and your Customer interactions will reflect this outward ripple.

There will always be less controllable external factors ‘ globalisation, technology, competition ‘ converging on your world, so control the internal controllables as far as possible.

The place to start changing the current communications situation and performance improvement is, therefore, with you.

Watch the ripple affects you personally (cause) set in motion?

Perhaps it’s time to stop blaming and making excuses for gaps in your performance.

Stop blaming the market, your customers, your company’s culture or structure, or your close interpersonal connections.

What could you be unconsciously doing?

What reactions do you have?

What signals are you sending out that cause this ripple effect?

By just starting to work on your personal mastery you will experience immediate improvements in all aspects of your communication. Your perceptions will change. Your new beliefs, attitudes and thinking framework will energise you.

Behaviour breeds behaviour is an old proverb worth employing by changing your own communications style you automatically attract a similar behavioral response.

Try it. It works!

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