Fa Mafi #ICBookClub Review – “Beyond The Babble: Leadership Communication that Delivers Results” by Bob Matha and Macy Boehm

Fa Mafi

The most recent #ICBookClub read was Beyond The Babble: Leadership Communication that Delivers Results by Bob Matha and Macy Boehm. Here’s a quick recap from Fa Mafi, in case you missed the chat!

The first question was ‘What was your biggest takeaway’ from the book. Responses aligned to the need for colleagues (both leaders and non-management) to understand their personal connection to the strategy of the business, specifically the ‘Action Equation: Know + Feel = Do… We’re no mathematical savants, so this equation is simple” what people know, plus what they feel, inspires them to take the right actions to execute strategy’. And, as communicators, we have an enormous part to play in ensuring that the strategy of the business is communicated clearly and effectively – ditch the babble!

Next up, we asked ‘How does ‘On Strategy’ communication differ/align to your current Internal Comms practice?’ ‘On Strategy’ communication is communication that aligns to the Know, Feel, Do equation, which we’ve already explored. It seems that many communicators have used ‘Know, Feel, Do’ for some time, and have found it effective – either as a blueprint for communicating to busy teams, or to help clarify what leaders expect of their people.

There are a number of motivators listed in the book – and when we asked which motivators #ICBookClub readers found most effective when driving employees within their organisation, responses were mixed. It was raised that motivation could vary depending on the individual but I’m of the belief that the biggest motivator is usually the contribution that the employee can (/should) be making as an individual. The ‘Why Should I Care’ element is something that I’ve seen as consistent across functions and industries from non-profit to high-tech, from developers to lawyers. Everybody’s time is precious – don’t waste it with a message that doesn’t hit the note for them and effectively wastes their time (and yours, in preparing it!).

The ‘People Channel’ is something that is explored within the book and can be succinctly described as (unsurprisingly) using people as a channel to communicate and cascade key information. We asked #ICBookClub readers how they had seen the ‘People Channel’ used most effectively. There was a mixture of responses – some cheering on ‘top-down’, cascaded communication and others recommending peer-to-peer communication. My opinion is that, whilst it’s the goal to have colleagues empowered to communicate, leaders lead by example and it is only by ensuring that leaders have the means to communicate effectively (and that is where IC adds value – manager toolkits, clear leadership messaging etc.) that non-leadership will have both the impetus and information to do so effectively. We can’t run before we can walk.

But how do we communicate effectively? Does ‘Know+Feel=Do?’ – and is that always the case? We asked the Twitterverse, and there was a resounding yes – at least at a fundamental level. As a Maths and numbers geek (yes… we do exist in ICLand!), however, I can’t help but think that basic equation is just that – basic. There are so many different elements that motivate the Know, and the Feel, which are touched upon in the book. It’ll never be a simple equation akin to 2+2=4. And I particularly enjoyed the points raised about the ‘why nots’ – or rather the ‘subtractions’, eloquently described by my fellow Committee member Dan Holden:

The final question was on how the book and its frameworks would help communicators reduce ‘babble’ in their organisation. Responses were, for the most part, around how their communications would now be clearer and how frameworks would bring focus to this:

By using Know Feel and Do, you are also tapping into the emotional connection to the strategy – what makes people proud to work at an organisation, what motivates them? Once that’s figured out, you can rally the (People) channel to share a clear and concise message. This message can then cut through other noise (which is increasing with the implementation of more – and more high-tech and ‘always on’ – channels) and goes ‘beyond the babble’.

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  1. Pingback: My top 10 books for internal communicators

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