Communication - you have a role

Message bottleOn Oct. 21 managers, supervisors, and other informal leaders at the Iowa DOT will come together for a day-long event focused on developing their leadership skills. During the Leadership Development Conference attendees will have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and identify issues and barriers related to leadership, strategic planning, performance management, culture, and communication and propose possible solutions to overcome barriers and become more successful as an organization in each of these five areas. 

But attendees of the conference are not the only ones responsible for improving our agency. Everyone has the ability to make improvements that help the Iowa DOT become smarter, simpler and customer driven. Even small changes in how you approach your day-to-day work can make a big impact on the way we operate as a team. The purpose of this blog is to give an introduction to each of these focus areas and suggest ways you can work to make improvements. So far we’ve explored the topics of leadership, strategic planning, performance management, and culture. 

Today is our final topic, communication.

What is it?


From your Face2Face training you know communication can take place in a wide variety of ways.

Why is it important?

Communication may be the most impactful activity that contributes to success in an organization. The exchange of information helps to increase knowledge, make decisions, identify problems, explore solutions, set goals, share ideas, and manage work.

Effective communication increases employee knowledge and engagement that can impact trust, commitment, and productivity. Fundamentally, good communication promotes better understanding.

DSC_9521With such a vast amount of information available, variety of ways to communicate, and multitude of perspectives often involved with a particular subject, communication requires constant attention. Given how much we communicate each and every day, it’s easy to take the need to use solid communication practices for granted. To successfully exchange information, the act of communication must be strategic and purposeful. It also takes ongoing attention to maintain and improve communication skills. This is the rationale for our Face2Face courses.

What can I do to improve communication?

Communication goes well beyond agency-wide emails, blogs, or Yammer posts or formal meetings with your supervisor. Each and every person is responsible for good communication. The best way to improve communication is to put it into practice each and every day. If you need someone to know something, remember your five W’s.

Who – Decide who needs to know. Is it one person, a whole group of people in your work area, or a variety of people throughout the organization?

What - Decide what is most important for them to know and focus your message on a main point or points. Leave out extra information that can cloud or alter what you want them to take away from the communication.

When – Find a time and place where your message has the best chance to get through. Is there a staff meeting where it can be brought up? If you need to talk to your supervisor, when is the best time for the supervisor to can give full attention to the issue.

Why – Why do you feel it is necessary to communicate this message? Similar to your what, making sure you understand why you are communicating can help you craft a more precise message.

Where – What is the best method or tool to carry your message? Do you need to clearly spell out details in writing? If so, consider email. Is this issue complicated? If the issue may need to have back and forth dialog or is there a chance emotion won’t come through in writing, you may want to communicate face-to-face or over the phone. Are there confidentiality issues that need to be considered?

The leaders at the Iowa DOT want our agency to utilize open, honest, and transparent communication. The hope is that, as you gain knowledge, you recognize whether or not that knowledge is beneficial for others to know and pass the information along as appropriate. If you don’t know something or need clarification on a message, it is your responsibility to ask a trusted source who you believe can provide you the information you need, instead of letting the lack of knowledge impact your success or resorting to informal sources that can lead to rumors or misinformation.

Look for more information in future blog posts about what was discussed during the Leadership Development Session.




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