The president and CEO of Christian Leadership Alliance reveals her “List of Seven” communication rules essential to every organization. The question is, can your ministry be effective without them?
Tami Heim came to CLA in 2012 with 32 years of retail leadership experience, which included a daunting challenge with a global company and thousands of employees at stake. Recently, she told me:
Whether we’re in Christian organizations or in the marketplace, our first ministry is to our people.
At Borders, stewarding our communication said everything about how we stewarded our people.”
To that end, Tami talked and walked her “List of Seven” communication rules:
1. Start at the top.
Consistent frequency and format builds trust. Your people want to know what’s happening from the leader, first. Dependable communication assures people of what they need to know be in the know.
2. Be consistent.
“September 11, 2001 literally rocked the Borders store at the base of the Five World Trade Center tower. We updated the entire company every two hours until every employee was accounted for. This touch made all the difference in building trust with our people.”
3. Explain where the organization is now—and where you’re headed.
Tell the truth of where you are and what’s coming up. We’re all like kids on vacation, asking “Are we there yet?” Pointing out the next milestone will help lighten the load of your people for the weighty work ahead.
4. Paint the big picture.
People need to connect the dots of what they’re doing and why it matters. Communicate your position, procedure and plan, and they’ll feel engaged and empowered with their role in the overall goal.
5. Welcome contrary ideas.
Questions and opinions will either flourish in open forums, or fester at the water cooler. Contrary ideas tell leadership where more communication is needed. Facilitate the process well and you’ll foster greater, stronger alignment.
6. Get to the heart of it.
Wess Stafford, former president and CEO of Compassion International, says a leader has 90 seconds to get to stir their own passion and that of others. What is the message, the story, the vision, that your people, your constituents, need to hear?
7. Create a common language.
Great communication takes hold when you give your people the words they need to be effective. By building a common language, you create consistency that elevates the organization’s health.
These seven communication rules were essential as Heim led Borders’ remarkable turnaround; the company achieved $2.9 billion annual revenue throughout its 450 stores, worldwide.
In her work at CLA, Tami believes the priceless outcomes of ministry can be realized “when we embrace the gifts and opportunities God has given each of us.” As Paul communicates: “Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.” (Galatians 6:4, The Message)
May we all experience that sinking feeling, today.