Communication 101

Communication skills are quite possibly the most overlooked traits in an individual. Without them, our ability to learn, adapt, and understand the nature of why we do what we do is diminished. In a Lean facility, great, not just good communication is essential to everything you do. From your Gemba walks to your Kaizen events, success hinges on your ability to conduct great communication.

Communication concept isolated on whiteIt’s stressed all the way through school, yet for some reason, communication skills are hardly pressed or tested on as we grow older. We are just “supposed” to have them and use them to build relationships, add knowledge and improve our work skills. Like any skill though, if you don’t use them often and more importantly correctly, they tend to slip over time.

Communication is Key to Lean

As a Lean practitioner, your success is determined by your customer. You should be continuously looking for ways to reduce waste in all forms to best serve your customer’s needs and increase profits. However, if you don’t have the right communication skills to identify and confront the unmet needs of your customer, then you will ultimately fail in your attempts. If you can’t listen and interpret what your customers want, then you will continue to provide them with a product or service they do not desire.

Communication is a two-way process and we’ve all heard the saying that “listening is the most important part,” but what about the rest of the communication process? All too often, we tend to focus on what we are going to communicate versus how we are going to communicate. We have countless methods of communication and if one thing gets misinterpreted along the way, the whole message could be a waste, regardless of how hard we tried to get the content right.

It’s an ongoing process that requires a clear and concise mind, free of distractions. There is no multitasking in the process of communication. In order to completely ensure the recipient understands your intentions and the content attached to it during the communication process, you need their full and undivided attention, as well as yours.

Boost Your Communication Skills Today

Here are a few other tips to improve your communication process:

Listen Carefully 

Make sure you completely understand the message you’re receiving. Know the meaning and why it’s being presented the way that it is.

Repeat What You Here

An easy way to see if you get the message is to repeat it back in your own words. Whether you’re reading an email or listening to an employee explain something, repeat it back, out loud to make sure you completely understand the message.

Write It Down

If you know it’s going to be an important conversation beforehand, take a note pad to take notes on. Chances are you are going to need to reference the conversation at some point and will need the information later. Also, if you don’t have a notepad handy, most smartphones have an app that will record your conversation for you.

Embrace All Communication Methods

Don’t think that your way is the best way. People like to communicate in all different forms these days. Don’t shy away from a method that you are not accustomed to. The more channels of communication you open, the better off you will be and your customers will appreciate you that much more.

Be Expedient

You should respond or follow up with messages in a timely manner. Otherwise, the message will get lost and even worse, the sender will think you are ignoring them or don’t value their time.

Add Value

Make the communication productive by adding value to it. The recipient should feel like you value them and their time. You don’t want them to leave the process feeling like they still have questions or unmet needs.


Additional Resources