This is the second part on the importance of better communication, whether it be business or golf and anything in-between.
With reference to the second problem: management. In a conference call recently, a senior executive commented that he did not respond well to e-mail and the people who know him would call or WhatsApp him.
He went on to say he has more than 4,000 e-mails in his inbox. This is certainly a problem if they are all still unopened, but also revealed a larger truth, which was confirmed subsequently.
This truth is that its founder is still running this particular organisation and staff defers all decisions to him, which makes for a logjam at the head of the communications channel. This problem is then being worsened by his being copied in on every e-mail by a staff structure, which cannot make decisions independent of the CEO.
Finally — be sure to read the content, whatever the communication mode, carefully and read all of it! How many times have you had an e-mail string or internal communication bounce backwards and forwards because someone forgot to read the last paragraph? “Oh sorry, I didn’t see that” — “Well heck, why not?” It is hardly either an intellectually or technologically demanding task, when all that is required is to scroll to the telltale end part, which shows you have come to the finish of the piece with the usual “regards” or “yours sincerely”.
Cryptic messaging can also be an issue, which results in a string of further e-mails trying to determine what the sender or responder really wanted. We had a classic example of this while setting up a promotion, when a senior marketing person at a company replied “happy” to an e-mail request for confirmation and price points and then “very happy” to the follow-up requesting him to clarify his response to the first e-mail.
To avoid this type of unnecessary ambiguity, ensure that every communication is clear, as long as it needs to be and no longer than that.
In the movie Amadeus, Emperor Joseph II comments to Mozart that though his work is ingenious and of quality, “there are simply too many notes”. To paraphrase the comment too often I see the complaint about a communication — “Gee, but it was so long” — this being in response to two A4 pages and 600 words.
“OK, so the next time we have the need to send out an executive summary for the key points required of us to consider in the hosting of the Summer Olympic Games, we shall keep it down to one line. And we shall do this just for ‘you’ and because you are sooooooo busy!”
However, in keeping to the point, shorthand-type content in e-mail, abbreviations (we seem to live in an alphabet soup), social text-messaging lingo and social media jargonese have no place in e-mail communications: “Thanx 4 the opp 2 meet u twas gr8 & will get bak 2 u with sumthing suner ratha than l8er”.
Even if you are communicating with a close colleague (just remember that they might need to share your e-mail with others), or a Rastafarian, please save this type of drivel for your mates on the multiplicity of idiot-level social media platforms that have proliferated.
Be polite. A little courtesy can pay big dividends. Acknowledge e-mails and thank people for sending you information or responding to a question, especially if it was you who requested the information or answers in the first place.
Get smart. Follow a few basic rules and you will quickly stop the trolls from hijacking the communications’ bridges and clogging the vital flow of information within your organisation.
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