I’m betting you have said on more than one occasion, “isn’t it funny, given what we do for a
living, that we aren’t better communicators?” And you’re right it is funny in an ironic, funny way.
But definitely not in a laugh all the way to the bank sort of way.
In my work with agency owners and leadership teams, there is almost always a broken line of
communication. It can come in many shapes and sizes. It can be a situation where Bob said
something 10 years ago and Babette is still clinging to it like it’s gospel even though Bob has
long since changed his thinking on the issue. Or Babette made a big announcement at a state
of the agency meeting three months ago and is surprised that no one accurately remembers the
details. Or Bob made a statement and no one asked any clarifying questions so all kinds of
assumptions were made and held for way too long.
You know, from your work with clients, that this is not an issue that in unique to agencies. It’s a
challenge in every organization. But in small to mid-sized agencies, it can be a killer. It can
cause people to shut down, quit, or make a mistake that costs you serious money.
How do we solve it?
- We don’t shortcut the messaging — we may have been thinking about some aspect of the
business for awhile, but our team has not had the benefit of walking that path with us.
We need to give them the back story and all of the supporting information so they can
fully understand the core idea.
- We can model asking clarifying questions — you know that it can be scary to ask you
questions when you make a statement or share your opinion. Set the example by asking
more clarifying questions and asking your team to punch holes in your ideas.
- Repeat it and then repeat it again — if it/’s important enough for you to say, it’s important
enough for you to repeat.
- Use multiple channels — that advice is not just for our clients. It works for internal
communications too. Say it out loud. Put it in an email. Map it out in a visual. You get
No matter how profitable your agency is, how many FTEs you have, or how well known you are
— this is an area that can be improved.
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