Communication Mistakes

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We revisit communication from a slightly different perspective.

In almost every organization people will complain about communication. The challenge is that communication is such a broad term that it rarely results in a good solution to a problem.

1. More communication doesn’t always mean better communication – when managers and executives hear that they have a communication problem in their organization – the response is usually to increase the AMOUNT of communication. This means more meetings and more emails. Not too many people out there want more meetings and more email than they get already. What they do want is MORE EFFECTIVE communication – What they need to know when they need to know it.

2. Signalling is important – last week we talked about the Pit Crew Challenge where we put managers into Pit Crew Teams to teach them about leadership, coaching and communication. It is important in that scenario that everyone keep people informed about what is going on. In companies this is a big issue – different departments don’t keep each other informed about changes, or customer requirements. So think about how the different departments in your organization SIGNAL one another so everyone knows what’s going on.

3. Remember that people don’t really listen all that well – People in marketing know that a customer needs to hear a message at least 7 times in order to remember and consider buying something. Managers think that if they say something once, everyone will remember. In reality instructions will often need to be repeated three times – other messages will need to be repeated 7 times or even more.

4. Keep your email short and focused to generate results – Most people admit that they scan their email to decide what to read based on these criteria – who sent it (boss and customer gets answered first), subject line (make your subject line like the headline – tell the story in a few words) and then based on the size of the message. Short messages with a single question or action item get dealt with first – long emails with multiple action items either never get read or the person answers only one question.

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