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May 30, 2014Technology & Innovation

Five Steps to Clear and Concise Communication in the Workplace

Five Steps to Clear and Concise Communication in the Workplace

Five Steps to Clear and Concise Communication in the Workplace

Are leaders born or are they made? This was a common topic that I've discussed with multiple peers, colleagues and friends. The truth is, there are key traits leaders have that determine success. Some people are born with the ability to communicate well.Some leaders work very hard to learn effective communication. No matter if it's innate or learned, good communication is vital to successfully building and managing a team.

Why is Communication Important?

Without communication, employees feel lost. And no one wants to be on a ship without a captain. At its core, consistent and clear communication from leadership offers employees predictability and a sense of control while developing trust and expectation. This cascading communication creates overall success. But what makes communication effectual? It must be clear and concise.

The Five-Paragraph Order

I served in the US Army for 17 years, including active and reserve duty. In numerous roles, I saw firsthand the importance of communication. We used the Five Paragraph Operations Order to filter the noise and gather the most important information. The effectiveness of the Five Paragraph order is that it organizes gathered information into easily digestible pieces and dispatches the details through the chain of command.

  1. Situation: What is going on? For instance, your team will be managing a new client. Go over strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and determine the probable course of action.
  2. Define the Mission: The five W's. Who, what, where, why and when. The whole purpose is to get everyone on the same page and working together toward a defined goal.
  3. Explain the Execution: Now that the situation is evaluated and the five W's defined, how are you going to accomplish the goal?
  4. Identify Supply: Classify the resources needed, and how these resources will be obtained.
  5. Decide on Command and Control: Develop a communication plan. Who is responsible for communicating the plan, the leader and where do your employees go with questions?

Communication Comes from Leadership First

It's important to remember communication comes from leadership down. It's incumbent upon us to open the lines of communication, and to lead by example. Make sure to spell out your objectives, give clear direction and always be direct and concise even when having uncomfortable conversations. You'll create an environment of confidence and reliability in which employees will work more cohesively.

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