Communication is Key

Organizations & People

“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”
– Albert Einstein

 

The Importance of This Essential Skill

It’s true – good communication unlocks potential and transforms results. When working remotely, effective communication is especially important to keep team members engaged, boost productivity, and support a thriving company culture. Here, local CEOs and communications leaders speak to the importance of this essential skill for remote and in-person workplaces alike.

kernea

Spenser Kernea

Senior Vice President, Executive Director of Strategy & Analytics | Johnson Group

Q: How has the remote work environment impacted your approach to communication?

A: Just like a picture is worth 1,000 words, a vocal conversation is worth 1,000 Slack messages. If you want to make sure a message is communicated, pick up the phone, start a call, get on a Zoom – and just have a vocal conversation.

Q: How does communication impact company culture?

A: Great communication does not create a company culture, but bad communication can certainly wreck it.

Q: How do you handle challenges with communication?

A: Is this a one-time communication blunder or a systemic issue? If it’s a one-time “oops”, pick up the phone and have a heart-to-heart with those impacted. If it’s a systemic issue, I can guarantee that it’s either a gap in understanding of the audience, the task, or the process.

Q: What is the key to effective communication?

A: The two must-haves for effective communication are: 1. Know your audience – know what they need, what they need to hear, and how they need to hear it. 2. Be concise – communicate only what needs to be communicated and nothing more.

Q: How do you use communication to keep your team engaged?

A: Frequent vocal conversation is undervalued and it should be made a priority. Find times to have candid, unorganized, vocal conversations to allow back-and-forth communication. This allows space for organic conversation to not only generate new ideas but also to develop empathetic and genuine relationships.

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Tonya Hathorne

Commercial Lines Broker Vice President | McGriff Insurance Service

Q: How has the remote work environment impacted your approach to communication?

A: Remote work has its benefits, and it also comes with some challenges. I believe the best communication happens face-to-face. That is more easily accomplished when I am sitting across the table from someone compared to looking at a screen.

Q: How would you describe your communication style?

A: For me, being transparent and direct is how I best communicate. However, I have learned that truth must be delivered with empathy and kindness, or it will not be heard, and relationships will be damaged.

Q: What is the key to effective communication?

A: Effective communication involves expressing one’s thoughts and opinions, but more importantly, it involves hearing the thoughts and ideas of others. More times than not, we learn by listening, not talking.

Q: How does communication impact company culture?

A: To ensure a company culture of trust and collaboration with little to no surprise, it’s important to communicate goals and expectations and hold ourselves and our teammates accountable to those goals.

Q: How do you handle challenges with communication?

A: Giving too little information leaves room for unfounded assumptions. On the other hand, information overload can cause one to lose her audience. Sticking to the facts and important details helps bring balance.

FirstBank ad

herrell

Mark Harrell

Founder and Chief Operating Officer | Trident Transport

Q: How has the remote work environment impacted your approach to communication?

A: There are more digital tools that I use to communicate that were not as common as before.

Q: How do you use communication to keep your team engaged?

A: I like to engage with employees on a personal level. Having casual conversations with team members helps build trust in each other. I want my team to feel comfortable when approaching me with an idea or providing feedback.

Q: How does communication impact company culture?

A: Good communication fosters a better company culture. Employees create a stronger bond with the organization when they can effectively communicate with the management team.

Q: How would you describe your communication style?

A: I try to be assertive when communicating with my team. I want to express my point of view in a clear and direct manner while still respecting their views and opinions.

Q: What is the key to effective communication?

A: The key is understanding what the message is, who in the organization needs to receive the message, and how the message needs to be delivered.

AEED Ad

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Tina Frist Smith

Communication Manager | Southern Adventist University

Q: How has the remote work environment impacted your approach to communication?

A: Not meeting in person – which would allow tracking of tone, inflection, and expressions – definitely can hinder or misconstrue a message that is sent through electronic or digital methods, but video conferencing can help lessen that downside.

Q: How would you describe your communication style?

A: Professionally, I like to be simple, open, and precise. I strive to use the fewest and clearest words within the right context and through the most effective media. I love the back-and-forth of information exchange and the depth that comes from spending enough time in conversation to reach an understanding.


Q: How do you handle challenges with communication?

A: Stopping to think before I speak is one of the most effective approaches for me – deliberately taking the time to mentally prepare. Listening is extremely important here as well, especially since many people are still processing a situation even after they begin talking.

Q: How does communication impact company culture?

A: It is modeled from the top down. Here at Southern, we strive to foster meaningful and supportive conversations with our university students, regardless of the topic or issue. Learning to discuss, listen, and even disagree respectfully are important skills to be carried into the workplace and impact the world in positive ways.


Q: What is the key to effective communication?

A: The key is researching and listening to understand the audience you want to reach. Knowing the communication methods a particular group will most likely respond to is vital for effective communication.

Decosimo Corporate Finance web ad

george mullinix

George Mullinix

Owner | Digital Smart Marketing

Q: How has the remote work environment impacted your approach to communication?

A: We need to be even more intentional with how we communicate. Remote working relationships reduce spontaneous communication that often occurs easily while in the workplace.

Q: What is the key to effective communication?

A: Regular in person, phone, or video conference meetings need to take place to review progress versus assignments, review priorities, answer any questions or concerns that a team member may have, and provide coaching as needed. Separately, the remote worker should be included in team meetings to ensure that they feel part of the team and have an overall perspective of the goals and objectives for the business.

Q: How would you describe your communication style?

A: Collaborative.

Q: How do you handle challenges with communication?

A: Listen to what needs to be fixed, and then fix it.

Q: How do you use communication to keep your team engaged?

A: Regardless of whether it is in office or with remote workers, ongoing thoughtful communication is needed to ensure that each person understands what is expected of them and what resources are available to ensure that they are successful and satisfied with their work.

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Morgan Hopkins

Director, Compensation & Office of the Chief Human Resources & Administration Office | TVA

Q: How has the remote work environment impacted your approach to communication?

A: The opportunity to walk the halls or swing by a department to connect with a large number of people has been replaced by more intentional avenues such as virtual meetings, phone calls, and coffee chats. It is harder to connect with those outside my normal scope of interaction, but when I do, we have a more real and meaningful conversation that goes beyond surface-level water cooler chats.

Q: How does communication impact company culture?

A: The true culture that is experienced by the people of the organization is driven by real-life, day-to-day interactions. What we communicate, celebrate, reinforce, and reward becomes the cultural roadmap people follow.

Q: How do you handle challenges with communication?

A: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” doesn’t just apply to exercise and healthy eating habits. To manage challenges on the front end, it’s critical to pull in the right people at the right time at the right level.

Q: How would you describe your communication style?

A: I am naturally a more reserved and introverted person, so the foundation of my interactions has been built on individual relationships. Those relationships are generally defined by genuineness, openness, and authenticity.

Q: How do you use communication to keep your team engaged?

A: Our team is highly engaged, and that is a result of the way the team communicates as they ensure voices are heard, psychological safety is high, and an inclusive environment is fostered.

Ruby Falls ad

ahmed

Liz Ahmed

EVP, People and Communications | Unum

Q: How has the remote work environment impacted your approach to communication?

A: I believe the core of engaging the remote worker population is the same as with every employee population: Be intentional, be targeted, and meet them where they are. At Unum Group, our robust intranet and internal social media platform are key tools in driving employee engagement.

Q: What makes communication important?

A: In all aspects of life and business, good communication is a critical element of success. Members of our communications team are positioned as trusted advisors, including to the CEO, and this ensures communications has a seat at the decision-making table. 

Q: How do you use communication to keep your team engaged?

A: A favorite communication tool of mine is what we call “CEO Quick Connects,” which are live broadcasted events, hosted jointly by our CEO and me. The bulk of time in these short-form sessions is reserved for responding directly to employee questions. Notably, we consistently see nearly 40% of our workforce tuning in each week.

Q: How do you handle challenges with communication?

A: I’ve found there is a strong tendency to jump immediately into the what, how, and who of a situation, as opposed to pursuing the context around why something is happening. When challenges arise, communication needs to start with the why.

Q: How would you describe your communication style?

A: Personally, I prefer a direct and candid approach to communications. I also think candor with compassion can be a powerful combination for effective communication.

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