- We share our approach with the “Who What Where Why When and How of communications” (2:58)
- How a strong communication cadence builds team culture, empowers your teams, and accelerates your growth(13:58)
- Examples of Communications and how you can integrate these to create a solid communication cadence (15:59)
Interesting Links & Resources:
- Visit our blog to learn more about Building a Culture of Innovation
Is your organization growing? TEAMES & CO can help you build a culture of innovation, define your strategic plan, and accelerate your growth.
Related Episodes: Collaborating Across Functions
Listen to Episode 9
Luis: Welcome to Building Teams with TEAMES and CO. I'm, Luis Wilson. And I'm here with Tracy Eames. Hey, Tracy.
Tracy: Hey, Luis. How are you?
Luis: I'm great thanks. For today's episode, we're going to talk about two topics that leaders often discuss as being opposing forces or opposing goals. And that is the culture and the growth of the organization. We're going to talk about how those two can in reality, be reinforcing each other through tools like communication. So Tracy, can you talk to us about how culture and company growth can really be reinforcing each other as opposed to working against each other?
Tracy: Yeah. Today, unfortunately with our schedules being as busy as they are, sometimes it can feel like to build culture and to accelerate our growth, are opposing forces or opposing goals, or if we do one, we won't have time to do the other. We're always picking at an organizational level about where do we invest our time and our resources. And what we want to talk about today is actually how building a great culture can reinforce growth and also by being successful as an organization and achieving your goals, that reinforces the culture and the mission of the organization and the team as you move forward. And so, today what we just want to talk about is how some of the things that we think about today as either culture building or growth building, if you work them into your team cadence, they can actually help you not only achieve your goals, but also reinforce that positive culture. And so, we're trying to help leaders think about actions that they can take to continuously work on both of those things versus feeling like they have to choose between those things.
Luis: Got it. Thank you. I know that one of the things that we want to focus on is how leaders use communication to build on both of those. So we're going to first walk through, and the topic of communication. We're going to walk through the who, what, when, why, where and how, and then what we're going to walk through some actual examples of what communication can look like in different forums, and then what things to focus on to ensure that you are both building the culture and growth towards the future for the firm. So let's start out with the who, what, when, why and where. The first one is who.
Tracy: So when we think about communication, you might be saying, "Tracy and Luis, why are you guys going back to who, what, where, why, when and how? It seems really basic." The reason we wanted to set it up in this framework is to give our listeners the opportunity to make sure they're thinking about all the different aspects of communication and how they can be the most successful. And so, by just running through this quick checklist that we can all kind of resonate with, it will help you guide your communications to be more relevant to your audience. And that's what you want when you're not only building an organization from an organizational design and team engagement culture perspective, or from a growth perspective, you want to make sure that you're sharing clear messages that are relevant with the people that you're sharing them with. We all receive a ton of information every day, whether it's emails from work or phone calls or ads that we see when we're on line or watching TV. We're bombarded with information.
And so as leaders in organizations, we have to not only cut through kind of the noise of all the messages that our teams are receiving within work, but also cut through the broader kind of information that the folks that we're communicating with are receiving each day. So thinking about that, you want to think about the first step is thinking about who you're communicating with. The reason you want to think about who you're communicating with, is because it's going to define what's relevant for them. Now, when you think about audience, you're thinking about am I communicating company-wide? Am I communicating with my leadership? Am I communicating with my team? Am I communicating externally? That's going to obviously frame a whole different set of information that you potentially can or cannot share. And so again, you want to make sure you know who you're communicating with, because it will help you frame out the rest of the communication to make it as relevant as possible to your audience.
Luis: Got it. So really beginning with the audience in mind in that who question. Next in our framework is what.
Tracy: What is exactly how it sounds. It's what content are you sharing with your audience? The what is important for our communication, because again, it's going to make sure you're sharing relevant information with your audience. You may be sharing the same high level information with multiple audiences. So for example, you might be sharing an update on a project. You might be sharing that update within a company-wide email. You also might be sharing a specific update with your team. And so, when you're thinking about the what, you're not only thinking about the broad context of the content, but also how it applies to your team in that you might send out the company-wide email, but then followup with a separate note to your team to say, this is the content that pertains to you or to us, right? So in that you might send a followup email to your team to say, I hope you received this company update I wanted to add a little bit extra context, so you're going to frame the what of this is how it applies to us as a team.
Based on this update, we might need to change X, Y, or Z, or based on this update, I wanted to recognize all of your efforts, because you did a really great job at achieving that goal. So it gives you that opportunity to frame the what in a little bit of a different way again, based on your audience. By identifying the who and the what, one of the things that you're doing here is telling people that your time is important to me. I'm going to share relevant information to you and by valuing people's time, you're showing them that you care. So you're reinforcing that that's important, obviously, building that culture, building that engagement, but you're also making sure they have all the information, the what, that they need to be successful. So when you're thinking about growth and acceleration, your teams will have the information that they need to be successful.
Luis: Got it. So we talked about who, really focusing on who your audience is, then moving on to the what, literally what the content is for each of those specific audiences, really focusing on making sure that it's relevant for them, when they need it, to make sure that A, they feel valued and B, they have the information they need to perform. Next, we're going to move on to when.
Tracy: When is important all the time, but when is even more important now. As we're working virtually, we want to make sure we're having clear discussions with our team members or any audience about the when in our communications. And what I mean by that is, you can send a message at a certain time of day, or you can have a conversation on a certain day of the week. There's also a cadence to our communications, maybe, especially now that many of us are working from home, we might be experiencing back to back calls. So when you're thinking about the when, especially around meetings of certain subjects, you want to make sure you're asking your team members what works best for them? This isn't to say that your team is not working hard all of the time. It's just to recognize that there's certain times of day or the week that some content will be more relevant to them.
And we'll also allow them to be more successful in hearing that information, but also participating in the conversation of the communication. I'll give you two examples. So one example would be the when, in terms of if you think about teams working virtually. Right now, as many of us have moved to working from home, we see our home life and our work life colliding. And so there just might be better times of the day to have a more focused conversation. We might be balancing the fact that we have a partner at home who's also working from home, or we have children who are online learning, and there just might be better times of the day for us to be in a quiet focused area. And so, by recognizing that with your team member, you're allowing yourself to be present in conversation, you're also allowing them to be present in the conversation, and you're showing them that you truly value their input and their feedback, and so, you're trying to make a space where you can both have an important conversation and communicate about a certain topic.
Similarly, if you're thinking about your team, you might be trying to decide when you're going to have a team update. Your team might say, "Hey, we don't want to have the update, our team meeting on Mondays, because we're all just getting back into the week and we want to catch up." We might want to have it on Tuesdays so we can kind of catch up on Monday, and then here the new information on Tuesday, that's going to be really helpful for us, because it's going to help us kind of move towards what's important for this week. Other teams might say, "Let's do it on Thursday," because then we know exactly what we should be doing for next week. It helps us recap, it helps us outline what our next steps next week are. It's a better cadence for us. In either scenario, by defining the when, based on who the audience is and asking for their input. Again, you're valuing their time, you're showing that you find their feedback to be important, and you're engaging them in that process. So that way, the communication is even more effective than it would have been.
Luis: Got it. Thank you. Next, we're going to move on to the why of communication.
Tracy: The why is really just what we often speak about, which is our shared purpose. It's the why behind what we do. It also aims to create that connection for our team. So when we think about building culture, often that shared purpose is what we're resonating around and we're connecting on. It also can be the why behind an initiative. And so, when we think about accelerating growth, if we can help our team or our leadership, understand why we might be thinking something or why we might be advocating for a certain position or why we might be making a particular goal, it's going to help engage them in the process. And we'll speak about innovation on a future podcast, but this is what really helps drive innovation and accelerate growth.
If I don't know the why, and I just know I'm supposed to do X or I just know that as a leader of my team member is suggesting X, but they haven't told me the why, it's hard for me to build on that idea, and it's hard for me to share my perspective and potentially add to that idea and make it even more successful and innovate together. So by sharing that why, it really helps us as an organization, not only engage our team members because we're giving them that transparency, but it also helps them build on the idea.
Luis: Got it, thank you. We've reviewed the who, what, when, why, and then we're going to finish off with where and how.
Tracy: And where, and how I think about as the listening to be heard portion of the communication. If you're asking people or you're giving them a lot of options about where they can access the information or how they can access the information, you're saying to them, we want you to hear this information, and we're going to take your feedback on how that's best delivered. So you want to ask people, is email better is? Is an audio file, an ideal way to share this information? Would you like us to have in a webinar? If we have a webinar, are there certain times of the day for the webinar? Should we record the webinar and maybe distribute that or post it somewhere on our internal message board? But again, the where and the how is a framework for us to think about and how well different team members with different communication styles be able to access the information.
So not every person is going to love email. Some people might prefer watching a video, or some people might prefer listening to audio. So we want to make sure that we're distributing information in a way that's accessible for all of our team members. And we're doing that in a cadence where maybe we send out an email and then we follow up with a team meeting, so we can answer questions about that email. But we also post a webinar or some slides where the team can go back and reference them if they have questions. So now we've kind of defined a where and how that builds on all of our team's communication styles. And hopefully again, helps them access that information in the way that's most relevant for them.
Luis: Thank you Tracy. [inaudible 00:13:34] Tracy sharing the who, what, when and where of communication. Next, we're going to move on to talk about some examples. I know that we have all types of communications. We have company updates at the larger forums all the way down to team updates, feedback sessions, goal review sessions, connecting, and then development conversations. Could you talk about one or two of these and really highlight to our listeners how focusing on the who, what, when, where and why really does drive both the culture of the company, as well as the growth.
Tracy: Many listeners might be thinking, well, they'd sit there and they're going to talk to us about culture and growth, and now we've talked about communication for most of the podcast. And the reason again for that is because by building in a really strong communication plan, you're able to not only communicate to your team and the broader audience of the organization, that you value their input and you value their participation, but you're also making sure that important information that they need to be successful gets to them and is received in a way that they can act on it, which again, helps accelerate growth. So communication really is a big key to both building and accelerating our growth. And the reason we use communication as the foundation for this podcast is because it's something we all do every day. We're constantly communicating with each other.
So if we can improve that, which we're already doing, it will help us build that culture and accelerate that growth as part of our regular cadence. To your question, let's jump into a specific example. We will use communications around goal-setting to illustrate how we can both foster culture and also accelerate our organizational growth. If you think about the who, we're going to talk about our team members, thinking about the what, we're going to talk about the goal review session. So having a goal review session is one of the ways that we communicate with our team. And you might think about this in the traditional sense as okay, this is a type of communication that is about accelerating our growth as an organization. Well, we at TEAMES and CO actually try to make this dual purpose. So the way that we approach it is we encourage leaders to first share the goal document with their team members and have their team members outline what they think their goals should be.
So team members would get a copy of the company strategy, they would get a copy of the team goals, and then they would have their own individual goal template to fill out. By starting the process with a team member, you're engaging them, you're letting them know that again, they're an important part of this process, you're getting them involved at the very beginning, so they have ownership over their goals and all of those reinforced to our team members that our culture values their input. And on top of that, by having that immediate buy-in and kind of participation, we're also hopefully going to accelerate our growth, because everybody's very aware and aligned on what the goals are because we've both been a part of the process. We've met about them, we're going to continue to meet about them, but from the very beginning, develop them together versus me just handing somebody a set of goals and saying, "These are your goals."
So it's a very different process. And by taking the same action and the same communication, but just doing it a little bit differently, we're able to both build culture and accelerate our growth in a way we weren't able to do before.
Luis: Thank you for going through that example of those Tracy, really appreciate it. And again, for really walking us through how leaders can think about communication and the who, what, when, why and where, as it relates to communication to really drive both culture and growth of their companies, and really kicking back the stereotype that these have to be opposing forces. Thank you so much for your time this week.
Tracy: Thank you Luis, really appreciate the conversation. And if there's more questions or more examples that folks want to hear about in terms of how can you both accelerate your growth while also building your culture? Let us know, we're happy to do a follow-up podcast using more examples beyond communication.
Luis: Absolutely. See you next week.