Speaking the Same Business Language

At our May CEO WATTAGE Network dinner, we had a very lively discussion about the importance of speaking the same 'business language', regardless of gender, cultural background, or experience.

For context, one of the CEOs at the dinner described a scenario she was encountering with one of her advisors. Her team was on track to hit a tight deadline, however the advisor kept questioning the team, over and over and over again, about whether they would hit the deadline. As many times as they reassured the advisor, yes, it was as if the advisor couldn't take yes for an answer.

The resulting tension had caused some resentment from one of her star, 'A Player' team members. She knew that the star team member would leave if the issue was not resolved.

Another CEO at our dinner had lived and worked in the advisor's home country. Although the advisor has lived in the United States for decades, our CEO WATTAGE Network member was able to share her experience, and illuminate that the advisor came from a place where 'yes' did not mean 'yes, I will get this done', it meant 'yes, I hear you'. 

When the advisor heard yes, it was not the same yes as our CEO heard. They were not speaking the same business language. 

Once the light was shined on that important root cause, we were able to discuss practical tactics for resolution. In order to move her business forward, our CEO needed to get everyone back to speaking the same business language.

In this post, we share a few of our favorite methods for getting teams and advisors on the same page.

In my experience, the best way to "speak the same business language" is deeply rooted in the development of shared values. Having a common perspective on the company's overall mission & vision (which parlays into values) means that however one describes the business goals, the common language becomes the shared set of articulated values.

This puts a burden on the CEO to establish and train every employee to understand and internalize these goals in his/her work. I'm a big proponent of team building / workshop exercises that focus on developing and incorporating a company's values and guiding principles into the daily functions and work being done.

Erin Burchfield, Co-Founder and CEO, nQuiry

When I do coaching/consulting with clients, individual and teams, I have them take Gallup Strengthsfinder & Kolbe. I've helped startups build balanced teams at all different stages, based on these assessments. I LOVE looking at people's Strengths & Kolbe.

With proper assessments, it is obvious who should be doing what, and how to maximize the strengths of individuals and teams, assigning them motivating work. I've been doing this for almost 10 years, and can read a team like a book. Assessments allow me to also see where holes in organizations exist, and ensure proper resourcing for success.

Nicole A. Donnelly, Founder and CEO, Happy Camper

One of my most important strategies for improving communication has been to constantly remind myself that the person I'm conversing with is ALWAYS speaking a different 'language' than I am. Whether there's a difference in their line of work, educational background, culture or a combination of these and many other factors, I know I'll never come across anyone who understands me perfectly.

Starting off my conversations with that mindset has been invaluable in reminding me to be patient and to take the time to verify that all parties are on the same page.

Bianca Wakeford, President, My Secret Admirer

Speaking the same business language can make or break a projects and teams. Our CEO WATTAGE Network allowed us to come together and share insights about issues important to each of our organizations, regardless of size or stage.

We want to know - what tactics and strategies have you implemented for better business communication, and why?

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