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“Say it Loud, Say it Clear”: Effective Communication Under Duress

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Abstract:

Difficult times require an extra effort when it comes to communication. With all of the talk about layoffs, budget cuts and salary reductions, utilities face an uphill battle against the internal “rumor mill”, declining morale during the current economic downturn, and external pressures to do more with less. A well-developed communication strategy is one key to sustaining performance in the face of these challenges.

The Water Distribution and Transmission Division of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department is meeting these challenges “head-on” with an aggressive communication program that has been developed and refined over a number of years. This presentation will highlight that program from the perspectives of the Division Chief, managers and supervisors, and employees. Extensive interviews at various levels of the organization identified key communication strategies and tactics that are helping this agency maintain a high level of performance through the most significant economic crisis the US has faced since the Great Depression. These strategies and tactics will be discussed in detail and results will be presented as a “business case” for optimizing communication during challenging times.

Focus of Study and Results:

This presentation will include discussion in communication topic areas including:

General overview of communication strategies and tactics


Types, frequencies, and styles for effective communication


Directional communication – up, down, and across the organization


Formal and informal communication methods and tools


Strengths and weaknesses of various communication approaches


Value and results from effective communication programs


Conclusion:

Communication during difficult times requires a well-developed strategy and aligned tactics. Sound communication techniques include being well-coordinated with your messages, providing positive messages to offset “bad news” when it occurs, being empathetic, and being honest and open. These “good communication rules” will be explored and discussed in detail throughout this presentation with tips on how to achieve these communication best practices in your organization.

Keywords: Communication; Leadership

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.2175/193864710798158544

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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