Creating powerful communication to mobilise your workforce
At the CIPD annual conference last week in Manchester, one of the sessions I attended was by Steve Head, called “Creating powerful communication to mobilise your workforce”.
Every year at this and other conferences like it, there is a mix of good, bad and ugly speakers and sessions, and then amongst the “good” hides THE session. This is “THE” session which delivers more than people expect at a professional conference, and this IMHO was the session from CIPD11.
The laughter was honest and regular throught the session.
Steve is a charismatic and entertaining presenter, without the pretentiousness of many at this level. I am sure that many attended the session expecting something about corporate communications. Indeed the session was described as:
Speaker – Steve Head, Coach and Author of A Near Life Experience: making the most of who you are.
This session will look at:
• how delivering strategies, leading change and engaging with the business all hinges on your ability to communicate more effectively
• the key principles of a successful HR communication strategy – how you can develop and implement improvements
• the most appropriate communication style and how it will help you engage with your workforce
Did the session deliver this..?
yes.. but not from an organizational perspective , but from a human perspective.
This session started with what some people would have described a “high risk strategy” with Steve first getting people to undertake a simple activity showing how change really feels and then stepped up his game by essentially tying people together in pairs with string. The activity was fast paces, and while there must have been 200+ people in the room, the activity and key learning points were well facilitated. I won’t describe the activity to avoid spoiling the effect for potential delegates. The key point that head was illustrating was that communication is in essence a mindset. “if you think you can you can.. and if you think your cannot – you are right”
Definition of Communication
Head gave us a simple working definition of “communication” – The sending, receiving and understanding of a message.
It’s all about Feedback
Not only did Head show that it was about mindset, but that we all have a natural predisposition to seeing data and information in a particular way. Look at the graphic below and consider what you will say:
The answer (scroll down when you have made your decision)
So what was your the first reaction?
Was your answer something like….”the last one is wrong… the answer is 16″ ?
It is interesting that the vast majority of people will say “but the last one is wrong”, when in fact a more productive approach may be – great you have 3 right, well done and it would be Even Better If (EBI) you have a look at number 4 again…
You get what you focus on
It’s all about focus. As Hersey & Blanchard say in the “One Minute Manager” – catch people doing things right – it’s easy to catch them doing something wrong!
It is curious that we are often reminded of mistakes time and time again, and yet successes are easily forgotten. Head pointed out that we never look at or think about attending seminars on “Finding the bad stuff” for we are good at that already! We recognise that we have weaknesses and yet while we seek “out of the box” solutions, we rarely seek to improve ourselves by looking in the mirror and doing to others what we would want ourselves.
Communications starts inside, with both our motivations and beliefs.
Head pointed out that while many of us seeking to improve talent management or employee engagement through motivation; he had the belief that people already had the motivation. What many of our people lack is the confidence. The confidence to “have a go”, the confidence to risk making mistakes without that mistake being put around their neck for the rest of their time with the organization like some kind of campaign medal for failure.
I have seen this in my voluntary work. Often the challenge with developing people for responding to emergency situations is not the skills themselves, sure they can be complex, but they are in essence simple. The real challenge is developing the self belief or confidence that they can “do it”, and that they will make a difference.
Much of what Head said could be seen as “stating the bl**dy obvious”, and yet if it were that obvious managers would not spend much of their time looking for and catching people doing the wrong things, they would spend more of their time catching people doing the right things.
The emphasis on the human factors, rather than the process factors was a pleasant surprise. The passion, energy and focus that Steve head demonstrated for both his subject and the audience was on the day, second to none. If people left this session without some action, no matter how small, then they were not in the room.
My only fear is that some will get “hung up” on his “show” techniques rather than the underlying message.