Over the past 25 years of my professional career, I have always known that communication lies at the heart of effective relationships — any relationship. Whether that relationship is between a leader and an employee, colleagues, or family members, the number one reason for the cause of consternation in those relationships is communication.
I strive to be an effective communicator. Recently, while participating in a presentation on communication by one of my colleagues, I had a mid-career epiphany: Communicate not from the perspective of what the organization wants to say, but rather from the perspective of what the employee needs to receive and how to best position that message so it is heard and deemed relevant! Research finds that many of us are guilty of not considering an employee’s natural tendency to focus on the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) channel. After 25 years, my hand is raised high — I’m guilty! Yes, I communicate the appropriate content of what needs to be known, but I find with the pressures of time that we all face, I sometimes fail to take that step back and consider the various stakeholders in any message and to potentially segment my audience so I can improve my effectiveness by appealing to their WIIFMs. I share my learning moment in the hopes that it will improve your communications in the relationships that are meaningful to you.
My key takeaway: slow down, identify the stakeholders, craft a message that is framed and meaningful from the employee’s WIIFM and never ever forget to answer the why, the how and the what! And above all else, keep on learning and evaluating your effectiveness.