“How hard can it be?” CIOs, have you ever bristled at this question? Everyone is talking about technology trends and unlocking new data sources. However, the extent to which people communicate effectively about what these trends can do for them varies greatly. What gets in the way?
First, we keep talking about “IT “and “the business” as if they’re separate entities. I have studied hundreds of organizational structures, and I have never once seen a box labeled “the business”. What does this even mean: “IT and the business” need to communicate better?
Information technology is a department, a function of the business, an industry and a discipline much like finance, human resources, internal communications, marketing, operations, sales, legal et cetera. The reality is we could each benefit from improving our communications with one another. Each discipline brings expertise and a language that is deeply rooted in that discipline. We are each experts in our respective domains. That’s a good thing.
The real opportunity is when we come together to further the very thing we have in common: an interest in our organization’s success. Here are five ways to build leadership communication skills and begin to communicate better with our colleagues:
- Express an interest in better understanding the value the other functions and business units bring to the organization. Learn about the specific products and services each of your colleagues is responsible to deliver.
- Educate and inform each another about the work you do, how you do it, and what some of the most critical business intersections are. Share the trends and opportunities impacting your discipline and your industry. Include the impact new technologies may have on how your work is performed. Share the information (data) you use to make decisions and where you get that data. Every conversation with a colleague in a different discipline is an opportunity to learn new things, teach new things, and collectively know more.
- Establish mutual empathy to better understand how your organizations impact one another. Be open to understanding where decisions you make help or hinder your colleagues. Listen without the temptation to solve at this point. Listen for understanding and insights.
- Build rapport and trust by finding ways to work together. Bring what you’ve learned back to your teams, so that everyone can foster deeper relationships within your function and learn how you each support the larger business. Then begin reaching out into the areas of the business you work with to further the organization’s overall success.
- Develop win/win solutions TOGETHER by extending and applying your relationships and learnings across departments to the way you plan, resource, and execute on the most transformational work possible. As a leadership team now powered by your collective expertise, knowledge, and deep appreciation of the organization to whose success you are all committed, you’ll be capable of more than ever!
We’d love to hear from you, too. Please share examples where you have been more successful by communicating more effectively within your own organization - or when you wish you had.