Are you communicating or just making noise?

“No one told me about that.” “I sent out an email a week again, didn’t you read it?”

Ever hear that? I have…

A few years back when consulting for Booz Allen, I had a client that ran the travel department for an organization. She was complaining that people didn’t know how to submit their travel requests and travel vouchers to get paid. Her limited staff was overworked and she felt she needed more people.

I asked her if she considered having some sort of training course for the organization…I thought that would help. “Oh, I’ve done that already,” she said. Then she produced a copy of an email that she had sent to everyone several months ago. It was very detailed–very complete. “I sent this to everyone, they have it; they should know how to do this.”

She didn’t see it as her ‘job’ to communicate or train the procedures in a repeatable way. It was the receiver’s job to receive, read, understand, and apply her single message regardless if they needed the information then or several months later.

Folks, this doesn’t work. Hopefully everyone that is reading this is shaking their heads and agreeing that this was a complete waste of communication and entirely ineffective.

However, how often do we use this excuse of “I told you,” or “Don’t you remember when I sent you that email,” or “Didn’t you read the memo or policy letter.”

Well sure…it’s not like most of us ignore communication (some do I admit), but was it timely. When you go to work with a new company, they have you read and sign the employee policies and the six years later they’re reminding you that you already should know that. Two months ago, organizational policies have changed, and a letter went out–didn’t you read that?

Let’s face it, that’s simply noise. If the message doesn’t apply to you at the moment there is a good chance that you will simply delete it without reading it. Even if you read it, more than likely you will forget it.

I know this is true for me. If I can’t apply it at that moment, I’ll forget what it said. I might remember getting the message, but I have no idea what it said.

If you want your message to be more than noise, you need to communicate often, at the right time, and appropriately to everyone. In short, communication is part of everyone’s responsibility and you should do it well.

Don’t simply be noise.

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About johnrknotts
John Knotts is a results-oriented business professional leader, manager, and supervisor with experience from the military, small business, several nonprofits, and is currently a management consultant. Working out of the San Antonio, Texas, he retired from the Air Force in July 2008 and worked with Booz Allen Hamilton from the end of October 2008 to December 2011. Now he is a Strategic Business Adviser with USAA. John leads large and small strategic transformations and has extensive experience in the areas of change management, strategic planning, process improvement, strategic communication and marketing, strategic human capital and resource management, education and training, facilitation, organizational design and development, modeling and simulation, financial and budget analysis, activity based costing and management, quality management, competitive sourcing and privatization, leadership development, and business development.

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