Whether it’s implementing a new process, talking about issues on the farm or just touching base with your employees, you have to be able to communicate effectively. You can go on and on and on, but it means nothing if your audience doesn’t truly understand what you are saying. So how do you go about really getting your point across? I’ll outline three aspects of a conversation to help you communicate with your employees effectively.
1. Prepare the message
It is critical to properly prepare your message. Break down your message into short, clear points. You need a firm understanding of what you will be talking about to be able to explain it well to others. Prepare your message so there is a very clear and concise understanding of what you are talking about. Remember that not everyone learns or retains information in the same way. It is very helpful to be able to present your message in multiple ways.
For example, you can prepare a PowerPoint, do a demonstration, show a video, involve audience participation, etc. Having some type of visual aid is extremely helpful in ensuring employees understand your message. Lastly, make sure you (and other presenters) are prepared and have a clear understanding of your goals for delivering the message, as well as your follow-through plan.
2. Deliver the message
When talking to your employees, be sure you are consistent with your message. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself – repetition is key in getting the message to really sink in. Remember to utilize your visual aids. This can be as simple as pulling an employee aside and showing them how you want something done or a PowerPoint presentation for all of your employees. When delivering the message, be sure to explain the “why.” You can ask an employee to do something 100 times in 100 different ways, but you will be much more effective if the employee understands why you are asking them to do it a specific way.
If you have employees whose first language is not English, bring in an outside translator to assist. We always recommend an outside translator because it allows all of your employees to focus on the message, as well as ensuring there’s no animosity if there are disagreements between your employees. An outside translator may also be able to help you understand and work through any cultural issues. Lastly, provide accountability – accountability on how the employees will be assessed and monitored to ensure the message has been understood and is being carried out properly.
3. Follow through
You can deliver a message in the best way possible, but unless you have follow-through, chances are your message isn’t going to stick. Just as I mentioned earlier, consistency, repetition and accountability must continue after the initial conversation. When preparing your message, plan how you will provide accountability for this message. Will you walk the barns once a week to check on the progress of an issue? Will there be occasional reviews? Be clear (with yourself and your employees) on what accountability measures will be taken. It is always helpful to have a few lead people provide reinforcement of your message. Lean on these people for repetition of the message, reinforcing the message when a mistake is made and holding employees accountable.
Once you find the method that best works for delivering your message to your employees, follow the three steps above to ensure your message is truly being heard and understood.
Becky Rodriguez is with AgriStaff USA. Email Becky Rodriguez.