100 Managers' Toolbox: Communication
The best communication tools for business managers
When to Use
When needing to improve communication, or as a warm up to an improving communications session.
What you get
An awareness of the elements needed for good communication.
30 minutes to 1 hour will provide a substantial insight.
Number of people
Groups of about 10 are ideal, larger groups can split to smaller ones, but the exercise must be run in different rooms. Smaller groups work but it is important that the key elements of successful communication are not decided by a small group and enforced on the rest of the organisation, as the benefits will be significantly reduced.
The diagrams shown opposite and paper and pens for the entire group.
1. A volunteer is given a copy of the diagram at the top of the opposite page, be clear that they cannot show the diagram to anyone else. Facing away from the rest of the group, with no questions and no feedback allowed, ask them to describe the diagram for the rest of the group t draw. The rest of the group can talk to each other.
2. When completed, look at all the pictures from the group. Notice the differences and the similarities.
3. Lead a discussion on what helps communication. Note down the key elements.
4. Run the exercise again with the other diagram, putting into practice the key elements for successful communication and analyse the results.
5. Relate the key elements for successful communication back to the workplace. Would they hold true there? What can we do to improve communication there?
After the first two steps, the group all have very different pictures, the orientation of the paper is different, the connections are different, etc.
Key elements for successful communication:
- Visual aids
- Clear boundaries
- Clear assumptions
- Keep it simple
- Don’t make assumptions about what people know
Running the exercise again, using the elements identified for good communication, most of the diagrams were the same.
Run the exercise with a close friend or one of your family.
Although a very simplistic exercise, it quickly highlights areas where communication can
immediately be improved in everyday business.
The simplistic nature of the tool means that some elements of everyday life are not included:
- It is rare that we have the full picture.
- It assumes that everyone needs to know the information.
- Methods and means of communication, it is rare that all the people who need the information are all sat in the same room.
To increase the usefulness of the tool, consider the elements that stop successful communication in the business, and work solutions to those as well.