Hockenberry Management Consulting - Communication

Let's Talk about Communication (Part 3)

If you haven’t read our previous articles about communication, check them out to get a good foundation before diving deeper into this article.

Let’s Talk about Communication (Part 1)

Let’s Talk about Communication (Part 2)

Remember, we defined communication as the sending and receiving of messages through verbal or nonverbal means.

Within a business organization, communication happens internally and externally.

We defined external communication as communication that happens (usually) from the business outward. This communication comes from within the organization and is sent into the greater world beyond its employee base. This can manifest within organizations as public relations, corporate communications, marketing communications, customer relations, etc. While there are often people or departments devoted to creating external communication messaging, many messages are also being sent unintentionally from business organizations.

Types of External Communication

Let’s take a closer look at the audiences of external communication.

Customers

Customer communication is a hot topic, and rightly so. For years, companies have realized the potential for growth within their customer base. These people have already aligned with the business in some way and may even be fans. Whether they come back as repeat customers or spread the word about a business, this is a powerful group of people for a business. In many ways, customer communication is arguably the most essential form of external communication.

Community

This can refer to an industry’s community, a geographical community, a community of like-minded people, etc. Community refers to commonality; when speaking to various communities, organizations must cater their messages to each audience. This is a great way to shed a positive light on a business and create interest within intended audiences.

Public

The general public is the final external audience we will discuss here. External communication to the public may consist of branding campaigns, marketing efforts, and customer initiatives. This form of communication generally helps people understand who the business is, what they do, and why people should care. Communication with the public is critical for growing a successful brand and business.

Communication’s Influence on Brand

Everything a business does, says, portrays, or broadcasts reflects that business. Each activity sends a message to their audience, reflecting who they are and what they stand for. Every action reflects their brand.

For example, imagine a large, national brand that promotes an upcoming sale. Perhaps the verbal message is “15% off now through Sunday… don’t miss out…” and the nonverbal message includes an excited tone and brightly colored graphics. From this message sent by the company, the receiver of that communication may understand that this is a fun business with much enthusiasm for their products, and they also have a sale. Three weeks from now, the person who saw that message from the company may have forgotten about the sale but still remembers that brand as being positive and exciting. The communication sent out from that company impacted the receiver’s perspective on their brand.

Why should we care? Well, people’s impressions influence their perspectives, determining whether they become interested in your company and its products/services and eventually whether you’ve gained a customer and fan of your brand.

Intentional vs. Unintentional Communication

The catch is that all communication may not be intentional. While the company may have intentionally wanted to share the news about their sale earlier, the interpretation of them being a fun company may have been coincidental. Unfortunately, unintentional messages are often not very positive.

For example, let’s say an organization plans to advertise an upcoming customer appreciation day in the local newspaper. The known external communication is whatever information is verbally shared in the advertisement – perhaps the dates and details of the event, along with the nonverbal communication – maybe the colors, fonts, and images that reflect the company’s brand. These elements are the intended communication from the company to the community. Less likely to be noticed is how the employee who worked on the advertisement interacted with the representative at the newspaper. Although their interactions were not the planned communication, if the employee was very rude to the newspaper representative, that employee unintentionally communicated negative things about the company.

Communication does not end with what is intended. Often, what is unintended gives an even better picture of the heart and culture of the company.

That is why communication is so important! Companies can communicate with their customers, the community, and the public. Whether their messages are intentional or not, each reflects on that organization’s brand. People’s experiences create impressions in their minds, and those impressions help determine what people think of an organization, which will determine how they respond to the message.

Have a Plan for Communication

While companies cannot control every communication that happens during a year/month/day/week/hour, the importance of having a plan is evident. The better the plan, the better the results. This applies to every area of business, but especially to communication. Organizations should create holistic, internal and external communication plans and processes, which can be followed and carried out by the entire team.

Creating a plan gives you a better chance of sending messages on purpose, having your message received and understood as intended by the right audience, and growing your business.

Contact our team for more information or help with communication planning and strategies, as well as more information on this and other communication topics.


Hockenberry Management Consulting - Communication

Let's Talk about Communication (Part 2)

If you haven’t read our previous article about communication, check it out to get a good foundation before diving deeper into this article.

Remember, we defined communication as the sending and receiving of messages through verbal or nonverbal means.

Within a business organization, communication happens internally and externally.

We defined internal communication as communication within the business, usually between employees. This can include vertical and horizontal communication channels, from higher-level employees to/from lower-level employees (vertical) and communication between same-level employees (horizontal).

Types of Internal Communication

Let’s take a closer look at the types of internal communication.

Employee to Employee Communication

This includes conversation and interaction between employees of an organization. This is a peer-to-peer communication related to work or personal matters and is generally the least formal type of communication within the organization.

Employee to Manager Communication

This includes messages being sent from employees and received by managers. The content of these messages may be about current projects or logistical issues and is often a more formal communication style than employee-to-employee communication.

Manager to Employee Communication

This includes messages being sent from managers and received by employees. Examples of this type of communication may involve delegation of tasks, requests for status updates, etc., and can be done formally or informally.

Employee to Company Communication

Employee-to-company communication is primarily based on the feedback employees give to the organization. This could be done informally or through surveys and reflect employment satisfaction, excitement about the brand, etc.

Company to Employee Communication

This type of communication consists of messages released from the organization to its people. While we know people created these messages within the company, the content is presented to come from the organization as an entity and is often relatively formal.

Formal and Informal Internal Communication

Within a business organization, the formality level varies per message and circumstance. For example, when speaking to a manager or leader of the organization, it is natural to become more formal than talking to a peer.

The formality could be reflected in words, tone, communication channels, etc. It is revealed in both verbal and nonverbal choices. Unfortunately, people have varying expectations and understanding of what is formal, proper, and appropriate. So the interpretation of communication can become a problem. Managers can feel disrespected by their teams, and employees can feel overwhelmed by their organizations, leaving everyone feeling misunderstood and frustrated. Whatever the circumstance, most of these issues can be traced back to the root cause of poor communication. Ultimately, this affects the company’s culture or is a reflection of it.

Pause and think about all the daily communication in a single organization, including employee-employee communication, employee-management communication, employee-customer communication, etc.

The quality and importance of communication within an organization directly connect with the culture and, ultimately, the success of that business.

Have a Plan for Communication

While companies cannot control every communication that happens during a year/month/day/week/hour, the importance of having a plan is evident. The better the plan, the better the results. This applies to every area of business, but especially to communication. Organizations should create holistic internal and external communication plans and processes, which can be followed and carried out by the entire team.

Creating a plan gives you a better chance of sending messages on purpose, having your message received and understood as intended by the right audience, and growing your business.

Contact our team for more information or help with communication planning and strategies, as well as more information on this and other communication topics.


Hockenberry Management Consulting - Communication

Let's Talk about Communication (Part 1)

Recall the last time you had a conversation with someone that lasted more than 5 minutes. Was it in person with a family member? Were you on the phone or a video call with a colleague? Did you walk away with any new information that helped you somehow? Were you motivated or discouraged by the conversation?

Every single interaction we have in a day has the opportunity to move us forward or hold us back. Interpersonal communication can influence us no matter who it’s with and how it’s accomplished. This is why it’s important to surround ourselves with people who will challenge us to move forward and live optimistically.

The Importance of Communication

The word “communication” triggers different thoughts and feelings for everyone, whether you’ve begged a significant other to communicate more, felt the strain of not talking to a close friend for a long time, or maybe the leadership at your company that claims team communication needs to improve. Communication is at the center of every significant, ongoing relationship, whether that is in the personal or professional realm.

To ensure we are on the same page, let’s think of communication as sending and receiving messages through verbal or nonverbal means.

Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

Breaking this down further, we understand that verbal and nonverbal forms of communication exist. Think of verbal communication as anything spoken or written – literally what is said. Think of nonverbal communication as anything expressed without spoken or written words – how what is said is said.

Many messages are being sent and received at any given moment, meaning people are almost constantly communicating in some way, even when they don’t realize it. For example, if a friend tells you a story about their weekend at the lake, you may not verbally say anything. Still, your nonverbal communication could convey that you aren’t interested in their story, perhaps by avoiding eye contact, checking your phone during their story, etc.

I’m sure you’ve probably had the experience of talking to someone but notice that the other person doesn’t seem to care about what you’re saying. They may not realize that this is the message they are sending, but that is undoubtedly the message you receive.

For example, let’s say that the CEO of an organization announces to the entire team that they will have a holiday party for everyone on Monday after work. The CEO verbally communicates the event’s time, date, and details and says, “I’m very excited for the opportunity to spend more time with each of you at this celebration.” While verbally communicating these things, they could also be shifting their weight from side to side, fidgeting with their hands, and grimacing. This sends nonverbal messages to the audience, perhaps revealing that the CEO is nervous about interacting with the team or that they are not interested in attending. The audience receives verbal and nonverbal messages, interprets what they see and hear, and then determines what is being communicated.

Internal and External Communication

Speaking specifically from a business communication perspective, there are internal and external communications to account for.

Internal communication is simply the communication that happens within the business, usually between employees of that organization. This can include vertical and horizontal communication channels, from higher-level employees to/from lower-level employees (vertical) and communication between same-level employees (horizontal). For more information, check out our article about internal communication!

External communication is the communication that happens (usually) from the business outward. This communication comes from within the organization and is sent into the greater world beyond its employee base. This can manifest within organizations as public relations, corporate communications, marketing communications, customer relations, etc. While there are often people or departments devoted to creating external communication messaging, many messages are also being sent unintentionally from business organizations. For more information, check out our article about external communication.

A Focus on Business Communication

Communication can be a tricky thing. It’s always happening, and we aren’t always aware of it. It exists in personal and professional spaces. It’s single-handedly one of the most influential and essential aspects of life. Some still deny its importance, claiming it is an overrated topic. However, people who embrace the importance of communication and strive to improve their skills will find success. The same is true for businesses.

Pause and think about all the communication that occurs daily in a single organization. This includes employee-employee communication, employee-management communication, employee-customer communication, etc. The quality and importance of communication within an organization will directly impact the culture and success of that business.

The effect of communication is not limited to what is intended. Often, the unintended consequences of communication provide a better picture of the heart and culture of the company. In other words, communication is not always intentional, and often, we can learn the most from unintended messages as they reveal the true story.

That is why communication is so important! Companies can communicate with their customers, the community, and the public. Whether their messages are intentional or not, each reflects on that organization’s brand. People’s experiences and messages received create impressions. Those impressions help determine what they think of the company.

Have a Plan for Communication

While companies cannot control every communication that happens during a year/month/day/week/hour, the importance of having a plan is evident. The better the plan, the better the results. This applies to every area of business, but especially to communication. Organizations should create holistic internal and external communication plans and processes, which can be followed and carried out by the entire team.

Creating a plan gives you a better chance of sending messages on purpose, having your message received and understood as intended by the right audience, and growing your business.

Contact our team for more information or help with communication planning and strategies, as well as other communication topics.


Hockenberry Management Consulting - Goal Setting Process

10 Steps to Achieve Your Greatest Goals

Throughout our lives, we’ve all heard things like “follow your dreams” and “do what you love.” But these approaches to life aren’t possible without setting and pursuing goals.

Even if we don’t realize that we’re setting goals for ourselves, we are. If our progress in life is partly determined by our ability to set and achieve goals, then why don’t we practice this skill more often? It’s probably because we don’t have an effective and reliable process to follow.

Given that, let’s break down the process of setting goals so we can better understand and pursue them.

Step 1: Write Down the Goal

What is it that you want to achieve? The first step in achieving any goal is to identify exactly what you want to accomplish, and then write it down.

Example: I’ll go on a river cruise in Europe next spring.

Step 2: Recognize the Rewards

Once you’ve articulated your goal, consider the rewards you’ll reap by achieving it. Rewards are all the positive things that will become a reality because you’ve reached your goal. These rewards may be related to your physical condition, personal relationships, work benefits, or mental health. Identifying all these rewards will help you mentally justify the importance of the goal, which means you’ll be more likely to do the work it takes to reach the finish line.

Example: I’ll get to relax, see new places, try new foods, and spend quality time with my partner.

Step 3: Consider the Consequences

On the flip side of rewards are consequences. Consequences are all the negative things you’ll experience if you don’t achieve your goal. These are the things that most people wish to avoid, so identifying them will help you realize the importance of the goal. After all, if you don’t achieve your goal, these are the consequences you’ll face.

Example: I’ll regret not going. I may not find a better time to go. I’ll miss an amazing opportunity to relax. I’ll disappoint my partner.

Step 4: Determine the Obstacles

The fourth step in goal setting is determining the obstacles you may have to overcome while you pursue your goal. These obstacles may be external (things you can’t control that come from the outside world). For example, the weather may be an obstacle for an outdoor event. These obstacles can also be internal (things that come from within you). For example, if you often struggle with motivation, that could be an obstacle!

Of all the goal-setting steps in this article, this one is arguably the most important. The more obstacles you identify, the more likely you’ll find ways to overcome them (in the next step), and the better chance you’ll have at reaching your goal. Even though this is one of the most valuable steps, it’s also the most skipped step in the goal-setting process. Why? Well, don’t we usually come up with a goal and immediately jump to how to get it done? Of course we do! This step takes us out of our regular routine of “getting right to it” and makes us pause to consider the challenges. So it’s not natural—and it might take some time to get comfortable thinking this way.

Example: There might be travel restrictions. The trip might be too expensive. I’m not very good at trip planning. I don’t know the river cruise provider options. I don’t have a passport.

Step 5: Brainstorm Possible Solutions

Now that we’ve identified the obstacles that could get in the way of achieving our goal, it’s time to brainstorm the possible solutions to those obstacles. Consider the solutions you could use to resolve the issues you could encounter.

Brainstorming should not be confused with decision-making. In this step, let your mind go wild and think of every possible solution to the obstacles you’ve identified. The more thoroughly you consider solutions, the more likely you’ll come up with brilliant ideas. Don’t just go with the first thing that comes to mind, since that will rarely be your best idea.

Example: I’ll learn how to get travel updates. I’ll save money. I’ll consider travel insurance. I’ll hire a travel agent. I’ll get help with the planning. I’ll get the proper travel documents.

Step 6: Articulate Action Steps

At this point in the goal-setting process, we finally arrive at planning action! It’s time to figure out what to do. We’ve identified what we want to achieve, why it’s important, what could get in our way, and how we could overcome those obstacles. Now, it’s time to decide what to do about it.

In this step, consider the actions you must complete to achieve your goal. Write out the action steps in a simple list that you can follow.

Example: I’ll research the latest travel restrictions. I’ll get travel insurance. I’ll save some of my paycheck every week as a vacation fund. I’ll ask my partner for help with planning. I’ll hire a travel agent. I’ll get a passport.

Step 7: Create a Timeline

To ensure you achieve your goal within an appropriate timeframe, it’s important to identify the due dates for each action item you listed in the previous step. If you must complete those action items in a particular order, this is the time to capture that and set deadlines accordingly. With a well-planned action step timeline, you can confidently achieve your goal within the timeframe you desire.

Example: I’ll immediately start saving some of my paycheck every week. I’ll ask my partner for help with planning by April 3. I’ll hire a travel agent by April 15. I’ll research the latest travel restrictions by May 20. I’ll get my passport by November 15. I’ll get travel insurance by December 5.

Step 8: Ask Others for Help

Many people feel like they’re alone in achieving their goals, but there are almost always people who can help you on your journey. If your goal is professional, you may be able to depend on colleagues or team members. If your goal is personal, perhaps you have a partner, close friend, or family member who can help. This help can come in the form of support, or it can involve delegation. If there are tasks on your action step list that others may be able to do, consider asking for help or delegating to them.

Example: I’ll ask my partner to get travel insurance and my travel agent to book the cruise.

Step 9: Identify a Completion Date

In this step, identify the date you’d like to complete your goal. For some goals, this deadline is given by your employer, or it may be a set date because of a scheduled event. For other goals, your target completion date could be completely determined by you. Choose a date that makes sense for you and your goal, then pursue your goal with that date in mind.

Example: I’ll complete my goal by next spring (the time of the cruise).

Step 10: Craft Affirmations

The final step in the goal-setting process is to craft affirming statements. Unfortunately, many people think this step is a little too “fluffy” and skip it. But science supports the idea of affirmations, and while they may feel uncomfortable or strange, they can be very beneficial.

An affirmation is a statement that you know to be true about yourself or various aspects of your goal, even in times of doubt. People tend to talk negatively to themselves, and affirmations give you space to speak positively instead. Tell yourself things that will increase your confidence and encourage you to pursue your goals, even when you don’t feel like it or you doubt yourself.

Example: I am a world traveler. I can be dedicated to saving money. I’m an exciting partner. I can successfully plan a trip.

By understanding and using an effective goal-setting process, we can set realistic goals and pursue them with confidence. While most of us were never taught these skills in clear and obvious ways, success awaits those who learn and apply this knowledge.

Happy goal setting! May you achieve many great successes.


Hockenberry Management Consulting - CELEBRATING 20 Years in Business!

Celebrating 20 Years in Business!

Hello Friends,

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since the inception of Hockenberry Management Consulting. Time really does fly, especially when you’re having fun. We love what we do at HMC and are privileged to work with great clients, so we truly are having fun!

Some things remain the same even after two decades. In order to grow a business, organizational performance matters. For a business to perform effectively, a great plan must be executed well. You must have good people excited to go to work every day, along with efficient processes that deliver quality products and services. Creative marketing must align with your business objectives and sales goals, and meaningful customer relationships matter. These and other factors must be supported by great leadership, solid communications, a culture conducive to the growth plan, and a systems approach to the way things are done.

Some things have changed since 2001 when we started advising, coaching, and training business leaders. Thinking back, that’s the year George Bush became president, Bob the Builder debuted in the US, Shrek was released in theatres, Barry Bonds broke the single season homerun record, the US invaded Afghanistan, and China was granted normal trade status with the US. Billie Eilish was born that year, and we lost Dale Earnhardt, Chet Atkins, and George Harrison, along with Todd Beamer and some 3000 other innocent, brave Americans on a single, sunny day in early September.

Two things are certain; change happens and the world is not the same as it was 20 years ago. People, including customers and employees, are not the same either. They think and behave differently, and therefore interact with your company differently. Are we really back to “normal”, or even a “new normal”, during a time some refer to as “post-pandemic”?

If you own or manage a business (or nonprofit), your plan for growth must continually evolve, given ever-changing times in your part of the world.

If we can be of assistance to you or your friends in any way, please feel free to reach out. Let’s talk.

Finally and most importantly, as we reflect on the past and look forward to the future, we say a heartfelt “thank you” to our clients, partners, and friends for your support over the past 20 years.

Sincerely,
Jeff & Heather


Hockenberry Management Consulting - Confetti Clear

Kicking Off Our 20th Year in Business

Dear Friends,

As we kick off our 20th year at Hockenberry Management Consulting, I feel a great sense of gratitude. For the past 19 years, we have had the privilege of working with some of the most wonderful people in some of the best companies in the region.

To our clients…

We sincerely thank you for allowing us to play a part in your efforts to make improvements in your business and achieve growth. We’ve enjoyed working together and look forward to continuing this journey with you.

To our clients and colleagues who have recommended us…

Thank you for trusting us enough to refer your friends and acquaintances. It has been our pleasure to serve them and welcome them into our community of successful clients.

To friends we have not met yet…

Heather and I look forward to meeting you and working together to make improvements to grow your business.

While it’s fun to celebrate this important milestone, which lasts for only one day, I’m reminded that it’s what we do with the other 364 days that make it possible.

Wishing you much success with your 364.

Sincerely,

Jeff Hockenberry


Now is the Time…

A message from Jeff during the COVID-19 pandemic, April 2020…

Dear Clients & Colleagues,

Now is the time to focus on innovative business strategy and proactive marketing.

It has been a strange several week period for businesses and nonprofits alike, and much has been said about the importance of leadership during these challenging times. It is true that effective leadership is essential, given the need for re-evaluating situations and circumstances, making necessary adjustments, and then making things happen. Of course, leadership can only go so far without other people, processes and plans in place, not to mention customers who want to buy your products and services.

Many factors contribute to business performance and growth, but two areas of particular importance right now include strategic planning and proactive marketing, along with increasingly creative sales initiatives. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves merely reacting to overwhelming circumstances which appear to be beyond our control. And often times during a crisis, right when we must be most effective as leaders, it becomes most difficult to think strategically about growing a business. Further, when so much around us seems uncertain and sales are down, any attempts to proactively market the company and its products and services are often put on hold.

Actually, it is during such times that it’s most important to devise a solid business strategy and marketing plan, keeping in mind the need for both short- and long-term objectives. It might not be as easy as it would have been otherwise, but it is necessary. We can’t be like the proverbial ostrich and bury our heads in the sand until the scary thing goes away and it’s safe to come back out and continue operating as usual. It may not be “as usual” again for a long time, and maybe never will be.

Be encouraged though. Now is the time to take action by thinking strategically about how to improve key areas of performance, market more intentionally than ever, grow your business as much as possible under the circumstances, and become better positioned for future growth when the situation returns to “normal”, whatever that may look like and whenever that may be. Regardless of what it is and when it occurs, you and your company will be ready.

We’re here to help. Remember, initial phone consultations are always complimentary.

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Sincerely,

Jeff


Why Is Time Management So Challenging?

Have you ever found yourself at the end of a busy day wishing there were just a few more hours left so you could get more stuff done?

 

Or maybe you’ve experienced that sinking feeling at the end of the day on Friday, staring at a list of unfinished to-do items, wondering how the week flew by so quickly. Rest assured, you are not alone.

Strategy based upon finding from Hockenberry Management Consulting

Time Management

 

Bookstore shelves and online resources are filled with information meant to help us manage our time better through various techniques, such as organizing our desks, filing paperwork properly, planning meetings with agendas, delegating to others, avoiding interruptions in our day, handling phone calls and emails quickly, using Post-It notes more effectively, etc. Do these techniques help? The honest answer is probably “somewhat… but not enough.”

These techniques aim to help us manage time, but in reality, we cannot manage time at all. The concept of “time management” is actually a misnomer. After all, can any of us change the fact that there are 60 minutes in every hour, and 24 hours in every day, and 7 days in every week?

If we cannot manage time, how can we possibly regain a sense of control in the midst of our busy lives and hectic schedules? As you may have guessed, the solution is to better manage ourselves.

Let’s consider this alternative view by asking three questions.

1. What is your purpose?
2. What are your values?
3. What is your vision?

If we cannot manage time, then we must think about how we can manage ourselves. We can change what we do in any given hour, day, or week. We can decide whether to continue spending (to use up, exhaust, or consume) our time, or whether to begin investing (to make use of for future benefits or advantages) our time.

How To Manage Your Time Better by Hockenberry Management Consulting

What is your purpose?

 

Do you know your purpose in life? If you knew you had only one year to live, what would you do differently? Why? What is important to you? How would you want to be remembered by your family, friends, and colleagues? Now, imagine that you were guaranteed many more years to live. How would the future be different from your current situation? Everyone has a purpose in life. This purpose, as you perceive it, establishes the foundation from which you think and behave. This perception of your purpose shapes your attitudes and helps to determine your goals. When you have a clear purpose in life, decisions about how you use time become easier to make. Certain things become more important than others. You begin investing time more often, rather than just spending it.

What are your values?

What principles do you use to make decisions in life? Your values are the morals, ethics, and standards that are important to you. They shape your perception of what is right and true, and generally do not change over time. What gives your life meaning? What do you believe? What do you value? Clarifying your values will help you make better decisions and help to reduce stress in your life. Choices about spending and investing time also become easier to make when you have clearly understood values.

What is your vision?

Where will you be and what will you be doing in 1 year… 5 years… 10 years? What will you need to do differently in order to get there? How will you need to change in order to get there? The vision you have for your future also affects the way you think, make decisions and choose to take action (or not) which determines how you use time now.

Clarifying your life’s purpose, affirming your values, and crystallizing your vision will have a significant impact on how you use the minutes that remain in this hour, the hours that remain in this day, the days that remain in this week… not to mention the weeks that remain in this year, and the years that remain in this lifetime.

For more information or help on this and other topics, contact our team.