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PMO Recap: Leadership Conversations

Have you ever had a conversation that’s gone wrong? More than likely, during your career you have had a meeting or conversation that was less than perfect. Many of us face communication challenges on the daily within our organizations.  

A huge thank you to Jason Brown, Director, Business Systems Networking at Xcel Energy and Scott Siebert, Director, Business Sytems Delivery at Xcel Energy for facilitating an engaging conversation on the topic of Leadership Communication. As always, a big thank you to Medica for hosting us.  

Last Friday, we started off our conversation by outlining some common leadership communication challenges. There are 7 barriers to great communication including:

  1. Physical
  2. Perceptual 
  3. Emotion  
  4. Cultural 
  5. Language 
  6. Gender 
  7. Interpersonal 
  8. Jason and Scott went on to add an 8th barrier, Technological.  

The context of messaging can be challenging, it’s hard to tell what a person is trying to say over a text message or an email. Micro-messaging is a huge communication barrier as well, you may look at your watch out of habit, while someone talking to you may take offense to the fact that you’re not giving them your full attention. Generations play a huge role in communication as well, each generation prefers a different form of communication. 

Since there are numerous barriers to communication, what can we do to create better communication within our organizations? Outlined below, you will find some suggestions from our facilitators to better your leadership communication. 

  • Using the 20/80 rule: When updating a leader on an issue, 20% of the communication should be discussing the problem and 80% should be what you are going to do about it. No one wants to hear about the issue time and time again, leaders are going to be looking for how the problem plans to be solved. 
  • Tailor your message: It all depends on who you are talking to. You should be tailoring your message constantly whether it be prepping for the meeting or adjusting on the fly during the meeting. You should always make sure that the most important things are located at the top of the message or the beginning of the presentation. Some won’t even look past the subject line.  
  • Elevator speech: Make sure you always have an elevator speech ready, you never know when you are going to find yourself in a situation where you need to use it!  
  • Status messaging: Pay attention to the nouns and verbs you use.  
  • Meetings: Remember to be present during the entire meeting. It is always a good idea to take notes during the meeting to show you are engaged. If you prefer to take notes on your computer, let the group know that is what you are doing.  

While we may never perfect it, communication is something we should constantly be working to improve. One way we can improve is by being aware of some of the common challenges as well as suggestions for better communication. If you are interested in learning more about what was discussed, you can find the slide deck here.