Jim Knight-1300

Don’t underestimate the power of communication

Many leaders underestimate the impact of messages from the top.

May 18, 2016

Great communication takes time, but credit union leaders who make the investment experience exponential dividends, according to workplace culture expert Jim Knight.

“Communication is one of those things that gets lost a lot because people don’t know how to do it very well or they think they’re too busy—when in fact, it’s probably some of the greatest time they could ever spend,” said Knight, a former Hard Rock International staff training and development chief.

That’s because the higher people rise within an organization, the further removed they are from the rest of the staff and ultimately, the consumers who use their products and services. Bridging that gap is crucial to ensure you properly equip your team to execute your vision.

Knight discussed that dynamic and offered strategies to help credit union leaders engage employees in their mission Wednesday at the CUNA CFO Council conference during his keynote speech, “Culture that Rocks: How to Amp Up or Revolutionize a Company's Culture.”

Why does communication break down? Some leaders are introverts who shy from the task, Knight said, and some are “numbers people” who like to stay in their comfort zone.

But often, the shortfall traces to prioritizing “tangible” actions over communication.

In any event, these leaders underestimate the impact of messages from the top—either formally, through mission statements and memos, or informally, through casual conversations that enable staff to relate to their bosses on a human level.

“They don’t realize the power of what they can do to inspire, motivate, reward, recognize achievement, and give people a path to ‘promotability,’” Knight said. “When you can do those things in every area of the employee life cycle, do you know what you get with that? Loyalty. Like, ‘I will stay with you forever if somebody will just communicate with me.’”

Knight’s challenge for credit union leaders: What could you say that would warrant people coming back to work every day and being proud of it and committing to it, not just complying?

“If you communicate with people on a regular basis, they will actually go out there and do the work you ask them to do,” he said. “It’s that simple.”