Effective Messaging Should Not Be Difficult
Communicating effectively is the key to successful leadership. Yet, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report, only 13% of employees strongly agree the leadership of their organization communicates effectively with the rest of the organization. The result is poorly engaged employees, decreasing productivity, and increasing employee turnover.
Whether communicating in presentations, via email, on virtual communication channels, or face-to-face, leaders who communicate well lead more effectively. The 7 Cs of communication help leaders convey important messages that are understood easily, improving engagement and productivity.
What are the 7 Cs of business communication?
The 7 Cs of business communication are:
Practicing clarity in your communication ensures that the message is received accurately. You should know what you wish to say and how to say it. Use language that can be easily understood, and resist the temptation to include unnecessary information.
Instead of saying, “We have considered the consequences of the existing policy on the hiring strategies we employ with our human resources department and updated them accordingly,” say, “We have updated our hiring policy.”
You must communicate with correctness – correct grammar, language, data, etc. In written communication, you should proofread before sending.
“You may enter the building during opening hours but must show relevant I.D.”
Immediately, the recipient of this information has two questions:
- “What are the opening hours, and what ID is considered relevant?
Correctness in this communication is conveyed by saying, “You may enter the building during the opening hours of 9am to 5pm daily, but must show your employee identity card.”
Never use more words than is necessary. Brevity is more easily understood, though you must avoid discourtesy. Concise messages save you and the recipient time, too. To be concise, follow these rules:
- Eliminate unnecessary words
- Use action verbs
- Remove repetition
“As a matter of fact, during the month of June, all employees must ensure that they wear appropriate clothing to ensure they stay cool while the air-conditioning is being repaired.”
“Indeed, during June, employees must wear appropriate clothing to stay cool while the air-conditioning is repaired.”
Employ courtesy when communicating. This shows you respect the recipient and helps to build goodwill. You must ensure that you are sincere, thoughtful, and do not use discriminatory language.
“I don’t appreciate how your team ignores requests for collaboration from my team. The work we do is equally as important as your work. Could you make certain that your team collaborates more readily from now on?”
Such a message is unlikely to encourage a negative response. Instead, a more effective approach would be:
“I understand that your team is extremely busy and receives many requests to collaborate on project work. However, my team is working a highly urgent project with enormous mutual benefits. I would greatly appreciate if you could ask your team to collaborate more effectively with mine to move this project forward faster. If there is any help that we can provide to make this happen, please let me know.”
Concrete communication is specific, clear, and meaningful. It avoids vagueness, uses available facts and figures to add authenticity, and builds around an active voice.
An example would be poor communication of underperformance during a one-to-one. You might say, “Your sales numbers are on the low side. They need to be improved to at least the team’s average.”
Give your employee concrete direction with evidence and an active voice:
“Your sales conversion rate is below 50%. You must improve this to the team average of 65% or higher.”
Be considerate with your messaging by putting yourself in the position of the recipient. Focus on communicating to ‘you’, considering needs and issues experienced by the recipient.
Imagine that you are unable to pay a promised bonus. How do you communicate this?
“We are unable to pay bonuses now. The business is awaiting payment from a major client. Once this payment is received, we can consider paying contractual bonuses as soon as is practicable.”
This could be better conveyed as follows:
“Unfortunately, we are not presently in the position to pay your bonus. However, as soon as our major client has settled their account, we will pay any bonuses owed to you. We’re sorry about this delay, but are sure you understand our need for positive cash flow and the long-term benefits this will deliver to you.”
Your message should be complete, delivering all the facts needed for the recipient to make an informed decision. Incomplete messages often receive poor responses.
To ensure your communication is complete, ask if it answers the what, when, why, who, where, and how.
“You haven’t completed the task that I set you,” is a message full of ambiguity. Instead, make sure you include all relevant facts:
“The data analysis for client ABC that I asked for on March 5 should have been completed by today. Will you have it finished this afternoon?”
Are you practicing the 7 Cs of business communication?
Communication is a critical skill that leaders must use constantly. When you communicate effectively, your team operates more effectively, and you will gain greater respect from them.
Prior to sharing any message with individuals or teams, ensure that the message meets the 7 Cs of business communication. You’ll find that your communication takes on greater meaning, becomes more persuasive and influential, and generates more positive responses when you follow these communication guidelines.
Are your leaders and managers skilled communicators?
Our leadership assessments will help you determine their strengths and weaknesses of your leaders and managers and any coaching needs.