As I reflect on the term poor management communication, I also have to wonder about good management communication. Over the years, studies on organizational communication have clearly indicated that managers are usually poor at sharing and listening and good at informing and educating; managers wearing their communication hats appear much happier and self-satisfied in the informing/educating role than in the sharing/listening role. Management likes professional communicators who help them with the informing/educating aspect; as a rule, however, management does not like communicators who, as the "ears" of the organization, tell them things they don't want to hear from the plant floor (quality control versus productivity) and the front lines (unhappy customers versus sales). This input can interfere with the company's vision and next quarter's shortsighted romp toward an increase in share price. Constructive input just plain complicates the managers' lives. Few are the managers who understand the inestimable value of seeking the contribution of the people affected by their actions: clients, employees, investors, suppliers, the community, etc.
What can be done to produce good management communication? Listen to audience irritations and concerns, tell people that they've been heard, demonstrate and communicate related actions, and then, and only then, pursue management's agenda if it still holds water. Management communication becomes leadership communication--credible, inclusive and compelling. And you know what? Values, ethics, governance and even the truth can happen, painlessly.
John Fleming, ABC, MC