Friday, October 28, 2005
They Got Your Memo, But Did They Get the Message?
Goldsmith explains what he means by way of citing a conversation he had with a client, a 54 year old "extremely action oriented and impatient" CEO of a major high-tech firm.
According to surveys that the CEO had ordered, his employees complained that they didn't understand the company's mission and overall direction. The hapless CEO was beside himself to explain this. He said he had clearly articulated the mission and direction at a team meeting, and then summarized it in a memo that was sent to everybody.
"See, here's the memo!" he wailed. "What more do they want?"
At first, Goldsmith thought his client was kidding, but when he realized that he was serious (as well as clueless with regard to this particular aspect of management), he began to ask some pointed questions:
"How was this memo distributed?"
"By email. It went to everyone."
"Okay. How many people actually read the memo?"
"I'm not sure."
Further questioning led to our CEO conceding that even among those who did read the email, not everyone necessarily understood it, and even among those who did understand it, some may have dismissed it out of hand as PR hype.
And of course, among those who did understand it and did take it seriously, not everyone may have remembered it!
Nor have we reached the bottom line. After all the above are eliminated, queried Goldsmith, "how may people do you think will change their behavior based upon the memo? How many will begin living and breathing the company's mission because of the memo?"
One swallow doesn't make a summer, and one memo, even one face-to-face meeting, doesn't necessarily make an effective communication. The solution: Follow-up. And more follow-up.
As Goldsmith aptly puts it: "Follow-up may take a little time, but it's less than the time wasted on miscommunication.
So how does your boss rate?
In honor of National Boss Day, which was commemorated in the United States a couple of weeks ago, BossMakeover.com compiled a list - obviously with tongue in cheek - of the top 10 ways a boss can tell if he or she needs a communications makeover:
1. No one ever asks a question in your meetings and you think it'’s because you did such a good job communicating.
2. You tell everyone you'’re a "“people person."”
3. After every staff meeting you end up having to explain your "diversity jokes" to the Human Resources Department.
4. You don'’t get why “"Dilbert"” is supposed be so funny.
5. You tell your kids “"people are our greatest asset."”
6. Your favorite sentence is “at the end of the day, we will optimize our passion for results with turnkey solutions in alignment with our strategic vision.”
7. You tell the same jokes and you think employees are laughing because you'’re funny.
8. You warn new employees: "“If you don'’t come in on Saturday, don'’t even think about coming in on Sunday."”
9. When you got the "“Corporate Buzzword Award"” at the Christmas Party, you thought it was a compliment.
10. As you manage by walking around, every person picks up the phone and appears to be talking business.
“"Ultimately, good management begins and ends with effective communication",” commented John Millen, president of MPA Executive Communications, parent company of BossMakeover.com.
And who can argue with that?
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