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Better Communication, Better Business

Posted By Holly Lyke Ho Gland, August 19, 2012 at 10:08 AM, in Category:

One of my roles in my household is mediator between my son and husband. Like many a father and son, they are so much alike that sparks fly on a fairly regular basis. Not surprisingly, nine times out ten, their frustrations stem from a lack of communication. Needless to say, pointing this out results in an emphatic eye roll from my son and gruff sigh from my husband. However, once they do talk, there is peace in the house for at least 24 hours. 

So what does this have to do with business?

Part of my job is to conduct annual priorities surveys, to pinpoint role-related challenges for executives in Marketing, R&D, Corporate Strategy and Development, Market Research, Competitive Intelligence, and Sales. Some challenges that come up year after year include:

- How do we get buy-in at all levels of the company for strategy adoption?
- What’s the best way to get support for that promising innovation?
- How can we get the strategy team to integrate our insights into the annual planning process?
- Why won’t Sales use the collateral we developed?

Any of these sound familiar?

In addition to picking their top challenges, the surveys also ask respondents to pinpoint the root cause of each challenge. In addition to limited resources, there are three recurring culprits—ineffective processes, a lack of common objectives, and inadequate communications.

Another key part of my job involves creating best-in-class case studies (Best Practice Guidebooks) that address the challenges identified in the surveys. In almost every case study our team produces, the best practices require developing communication mechanisms—to generate buy-in, break down silos, tap into out of the box ideas, and create transparency and trust between stakeholders. Here are two common methods we have found for creating sustainable communications:

1. Formal cross-functional committees—these committees tend to meet monthly and include representatives from all the relevant stakeholder groups/functions. These committees are useful to discuss resources, create transparency on project milestones, and supply information on project status prior to hand-off.

2. Informal monthly meetings—these meetings tend to include staff from related functions (such as Marketing and R&D) and are particularly useful for sharing best practices, breaking down silos, and brainstorming long-range or disruptive ideas.

Much like with my son and husband, when left to their own devices, business communications tend to break down or be shifted aside for more pressing priorities. Communications are vital to ensuring the health of any project or process and require commitment and nurturing equal to the multitude of benefits it offers.  

Holly is the Research Lead for the Growth Team Membership, a best practices research group within Frost & Sullivan. Follow her on twitter at @hlykehogland.

Written by Holly Lyke Ho Gland

Holly is the research lead for the Growth Team Membership™ (GTM) program. Holly identifies and profiles best practices that address the main challenges faced by the leadership in key functions that support the CEO in driving growth strategies. Since joining Frost & Sullivan in 2008, Holly has developed Best Practice Guidebooks for executives in Corporate Strategy, Corporate Development, R&D, Market Research and Competitive Intelligence. In addition to her best practices work, Holly manages GTM’s annual priorities surveys of senior executives within Marketing, Corporate Strategy, Sales Leadership, Corporate Development, and Innovation/R&D. Prior to joining Frost & Sullivan, Holly worked for three years at Sam Houston State University. There she was an instructor and a research assistant on research projects analyzing public perceptions of natural resource management in natural gas, power and water.

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