Communication is critical in every relationship; we all know that, but we sometimes forget how important it is to have a communication plan, strategy, or at least a guideline for work. We take it for granted. Every firm must have a communication plan. It must create one and review it every few months to make sure everyone is on the same page. Information should travel smoothly and consistently, with no delays in responses and no misunderstanding of the information's process or flow.
How can we create a good communication plan in our firm internally and externally?
1. Analyze Communication needs.
We need to determine what works for everyone in the firm and our customers. The best system or tools to use for our communication plan. We need to establish communication requirements, as:
What is relevant information to contribute to the case or project in action?
Analysis of cost
Time taking in the process; What is is faster an email, phone call, or perhaps a text?
Logistics, how the information would be send it.
Within the communication requirements analysis, we need to understand any special needs for the plan; a) Time zone of our clients, b) Communication preference, c) Functional or hierarchical barriers, d) Language barriers, e) Technological barriers, f) Cultural differences.
A straightforward way to obtain most of this information is by asking some basic questions as:
How often would you like to receive status reports?
How do you prefer to receive information - by phone, email, or face-to-face meetings?
What level pf details are you expecting?
2. Plan methods, channels, frequency, and levels of details:
a) Communication models are a description, analogy, or schematic used to represent how the communication process will be performed across the firm or project in action. b) Communication methods are systematic procedures, techniques, or processes used to transfer information among the firm or customers. There are three types of communication methods:
Push communication: Ensures that the information has been distributed, but it doesn't guarantee that it has reached the receiver. E.g., an email.
Pull communication: Involves receiver access to the information whenever it is required. E.g., an information repository (Google drive, Teams, Outlook drive)
Interactive Communication: Communication between multiple people performing multidirectional information exchange. E.g., Chat rooms.
There are five steps in the interactive communication process required for this to work:
Encode: The ideas are translated into language used by the sender to convey information.
Transmit message: Information is sent to the receiver by the sender.
Decode: The receiver translates the message into the meaningful ideas
Acknowledge: The receiver signals that they have received the information.
Feedback/Response: The receiver encodes a message and transmits it back to the sender.
Plan your communication strategy and regularly review it to make sure it is fulfilling its goals and objectives. Every communication should serve a purpose and be built from a consistent framework.
3. Manage Effective information
A communication management plan should contain:
a) Stakeholder communication requirements
b) Information to be communicated, including language to be used.
c) Reason for the distribution of the information.
d) Timeframe and frequency of the information distribution.
e) The person responsible for the communication.
f) The person responsible for the release of the confidential information.
g) People who will receive the information.
h) Methods or technologies used to convey the information.
i) Time and budget allocated for the communication.
j) Escalation process for issues that needs visibility.
k) Method for updating the communication management plan.
l) Glossary of common terminology.
m) Flowcharts of information flow.
n) Any communication constraints due to regulation or policies.
4. Confirm Receipt
Make sure you and everyone in your team understand what is required from them.
A digital message should be replied digitally by the means that you sent the message.
Not all communications required explicit feedback.
Positive feedback occurs when a message was received and understood as intended by the sender.
If the feedback is negative and the receiver does not understand the message, the sender should make sure to correct the misunderstanding.
Communication is an everyday task in our lives and our jobs; we are constantly communicating. Nothing can help you transmit your ideas more than a well-thought and organized communication plan. Always ensure that any communication is acknowledged so that you know whether those stakeholders (teammates, partners, and customers) received the necessary information. An hour invested in a communication plan development could help you to prevent some mistakes, it could be an embarrassing mistake, or some others could be very costly ones.