Cutting through the noise
One of the things I’ve noticed as restrictions on our day-to-day lives begin to ease is how noisy the world has become, or at least my sensitivity is heightened.
Whichever, it’s had me thinking about noise at a number of levels…the noise, for example, the media created around our PM’s wedding – where it might take place, who’d be invited, what would guests eat – only to be thwarted by a snap wedding just days after the acres of newsprint speculation.
Or the noise around football transfers – yes, it’s that season again when hope springs eternal in footie fans for a big, game-changing signing. The thing is if every rumoured arrival were true most elite clubs would have a squad of 300 players.
We see a similar type of noise in organisations. Rumour and speculation mushroom in the spaces where straightforward and open communication should be flourishing. People become distracted, the speculation almost becomes the work and inhibiting fear takes on a noise-like quality of its own – a low rumble in the atmosphere.
We must cut this noise out. That means generating a culture in which relationships are prioritised and trust is the currency. It means ensuring communication flows down, up and across the organisation and that our cascade processes are based on conversations in which meaning is made rather than simply passing on information.
It means welcoming challenge and feedback as the norm so people can question and share their views without having to screw up their courage to do so.
And we need to think about the language, making a break from the corporate speak that we so often slip into and that can obscure meaning, heighten anxiety and generate speculation not quell it. Instead we need words that are simpler, more grounded in the everyday and spoken from the heart.