When In Doubt… Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!

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Have you ever noticed how almost every problem you have ever had can be traced back to relationships, or the lack thereof? It is often our inability to communicate effectively (or sometimes at all) that hinders us the most in these relationships. As a father and the President of a company, my life journey has taught me the importance of effective communication at work and at home.

Luckily, many of the standard tactics that we employ to relate with our employees can also be used to better understand and communicate with our children, and vice versa. And why shouldn't it be that way? Both relationships require mutual respect, understanding, and continual communication. KIDmandment #5 is all about developing Relationships & Communication Skills, and in this week's blog I want to take a closer look at how we communicate at work and at home.

Operating With Transparency

Studies have shown time and time again that to be a good leader you need to be transparent. A recent study sponsored by DOMO and CEO.com found that:

“79% of executives and 74% of general employees say they would like to receive communications from their CEOs at least monthly. Yet more than a quarter of executives and general employees report hearing from their CEOs less than once a quarter.”

Without a certain degree of transparency, communication is impossible. Employees need to hear from leaders at work regularly to feel that expectations and goals are clear. Likewise, children will not feel valued or respected if they aren't included in family discussions or don't understand why certain decisions are being made.

Transparency doesn't negate privacy, of course, and it's important that you don't share everything with your kids. Checking in during dinner in the evening and discussing the discoveries and challenges of each day for each member of the family goes a long way towards creating communicative relationships based on honesty and openness.

Micro-Managing and Reporting

As the father of three daughters, I know that I occasionally struggle to let go. I would like to know everything that goes on in their lives — just as a micro-managing CEO might constantly hassle their employees for status updates. But at a certain point, continual reporting inhibits productivity and can lead to resentment and frustration. Employees at the mercy of a micro-manager often develop tactics to “manage the manager,” as Estienne de Beer describes in The CEO Refresher, and children can do the same.

Honest, effective communication cannot be forced, or it may lead to avoidance or deception. At a certain point, we need to trust our employees to handle things on their own. Our role as the leader of a business or household is not to manage every step of everyone's day but instead to step in when someone needs help and to give advice and guidance.

Making Ourselves Available

You might think: of course I'm available to my children! But how many of us have failed to notice signs that our child is struggling in school? Or that they are being bullied or falling in with the wrong crowd? I know that I'm not perfect, and my busy schedule makes it difficult to be available from time to time. But making ourselves available means more than just having an “open door policy,” it means actually scheduling time to discuss issues with your children, as the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests.

Just as you touch base with your employees, touch base with your kids regularly. Even if it's a quick chat on the way to and from soccer practice each week, let them know that there are times when you are just there to listen.

Acknowledging Accomplishments

When we validate people, we show them we acknowledge and accept them for who they are — for their individuality. Acknowledging accomplishments is always important, whether in a business or in a family. The DOMO study cited above also found that:

“Across the board, CEOs believe they’re placing a strong emphasis on positive actions, while their executive teams are not so sure. For instance, 42% of CEOs rank “recognizing and rewarding achievement” as their most important priority, yet only 17% of execs agree.”

We can all do a better job of communicating our appreciation for one another. Acknowledging accomplishments shows that we care and shows what we expect. This is especially important for parents, because children whose accomplishments are not acknowledged may feel as though the only way to get attention is to act out. It can be very easy to simply assume that your child knows how incredibly proud of them that you are, but you also need to communicate that openly and often.

We Are Always Communicating

We cannot NOT communicate. Whether we realize it or not, we communicate through our presence or our absence, our silence or our words. In fact, nonverbal communication can be more important than verbal communication. As parents, we can set an example for our kids about communicating by making eye contact, engaging with our posture, and using appropriate facial expressions. These skills become incredibly important later in life, especially in the workplace.

Communication is best when approached as a process of mutual understanding. The ultimate goal isn't just to avoid conflict at home or at work, but to emphasize the importance of others, our impact on them, and their impact on us. Nothing great can be accomplished without the help of others, so learning to communicate effectively (and helping our children learn to do the same) can exponentially effect all of our lives for the better!

Which communication strategies have helped you at home and at work? Share by tweeting @JeffOddo!