Robbie: [Linda shows up for the first time after failing to marry him] You’re late.
Linda: [sighs] I’m sorry… I just couldn’t do it.
Robbie: Well, if you need more time, I guess I could wait.
Linda: No… I don’t need more time, Robbie. I don’t ever want to marry you.
Robbie: [takes a deep breath, sighs] Gee, you know that information… really would’ve been more useful to me *yesterday.* (from The Wedding Singer)
How often has something like that happened to you?
Most of the time, unshared information is not quite that dramatic, but it can have an outsized impact on teams working together. If there is not good information sharing, members of a team can lose trust in each other very quickly, even if the cause is completely innocuous. Staff can lose confidence in management and vice versa. Customers can lose confidence in your services. Lots of bad things can happen.
The good news is that this is easy to address. Just like a successful business, there are three things you need to do:
And remember that this goes both ways. There is the person sharing and the person receiving. Both have to participate in this process, so it is incumbent on internal parties to make sure that the chosen method works well. With customers, you have to ask a lot of questions and collect hard data to make sure your messages are reaching the right people in a timely manner.
There are approximately a million different ways to communicate now. In person, phone, email, blogs, text messaging, instant messaging, an unfathomable number of social network platforms. They key is finding the one that works and also finding the pattern that works. This may take some trials to figure out the best method. Emailing someone late on Friday afternoons is not the best strategy for success. Establishing a weekly schedule of reporting would be much better. Setting the expectation up front always helps.
Another thing to remember is that people receive information differently. You might need to send your message using multiple methods, depending on the variety of your audience. You need to solicit feedback to find out if they are working. Just assuming that your message is being delivered, especially if it has to go through multiple layers of staff, is not a good plan.
On the other end, to be a good receiver of information, you have to try to be a little flexible. You will get messages by various means and need to pay attention. You also need to provide feedback on what methods work the best. If there is two-way sharing going on, then people will adapt on both ends and the communication process will improve.
The last thing to remember is that communication is a process and you can look for all of the wastes that were covered in the last ten posts. And just like any other process, addressing them will go a long way to making sure you have the best communication out there.