This week we recur to a theme we started a while ago, management communications. If you don’t remember, we won’t be surprised – it was September, and we barely scratched the surface of presenting with PowerPoint.
There are so many topics to cover, we’re just now getting back to management communications. One of the reasons was our just concluded FOUR part series on performance reviews. We hope that the timing of that helped you be HIGHLY effective this month.
While we ARE going to talk about communications this week, we’re going to discuss a topic that most of you give almost no thought to: communication plans.
What do we mean by communications plans? What we mean is, how do you, as a manager, intend to have your organization understand your team’s plans, strategies and operations? If you immediately jump to “email and a meeting”, you’re not thinking effectively. Have you ever even THOUGHT about having a PLAN or PROCESS for thinking about HOW to communicate with your team?
Here’s what we bet. We bet that you communicate on autopilot. You don’t think AT ALL about HOW to communicate… you think about WHAT you’re going to communicate, and then use the most basic defaults to get your message across.
In fact, we would argue that you NEVER think about communicating other than presentations with PowerPoint. You don’t THINK about communicating… you just DO communicating. The problem with that is, if you don’t ever think about it, you WILL NEVER GET BETTER.
How do you know if you’re on autopilot? Let’s say you want everyone on your team to know something. If you think pretty quickly, email! You’re on autopilot. If you say, well, wait. If I have a meeting coming up, I might put it on the agenda, you’re STILL on autopilot. If, on the other hand, you have something to tell an individual, whether it comes from your boss or not, you think, one on one or poke your head into their cube, you’re on autopilot.
By the way, “telling everybody something” is called, in the communications planning world, “broadcasting”… and telling just one person something is “narrowcasting.”
Now look, we’re not saying these defaults don’t work pretty well most of the time. They do. But there are two dangers with them. First, if something unique or special requires communicating, and you’re operating on autopilot without even a hint of being most effective in your communications, you run the risk of the WAY you’re communicating affecting the quality of your message. Putting it in systems language, your poor PROCESS is affecting your CONTENT. What today’s cast about is the PROCESS of communicating, versus the content.
The second danger is that if you don’t think about communicating as a PROCESS, your ability to communicate as you gain managerial responsibilities will break down. If you just take communicating for granted, when you become a director or junior Vice President, and now have to rely on managers and others to carry your messages to your entire organization, you WILL NOT BE ABLE TO DO IT. You’ve got to have more tricks in your bag as you climb the org structure.
This inability to communicate is one of the biggest frustrations of senior executives we know. They often describe their jobs as “swimming” or “running in oatmeal”, because it takes so long to get the word out, and then “people still don’t get it”.
During the podcast, we make reference to a Sample Communications Plan to assist you in planning your communications more effectively. Use this tool to immediately increase the effectiveness of your managerial communications. You may download it here.