Saturday, December 4, 2010

Seven Rules for Communication

Organizational Communication, Ten percent Never Get the Word, One-Half of Information is Wrong;

Most of the time the managers are more concerned with having the direct reports do what they are told. Simply to do what the organization needs: compliance to directives.

The CEO's directives get lost in translation.

Norman Rockwell's painting, Gossip illustrates the chain of custody of information as data moves between people. As the reader can well imagine, the tidbit of info at the start of the exchange is very different from the last transaction. Note that the lady who starts the linkage is also seen in the final conversation. From her expression, The Alert Manager will sympathize: The direction that was first given is not what s/he may now be hearing down deep in the corporate hierarchy.

The Manager's initial order was not what was received by the troops in the trenches.This is why managers make and deserve so much money-- dealing with the imperfection of the crooked timber of the human condition.Even technology has this challenge seen in dropped cell phone calls and packet loss on the internet. However, technology can be improved much faster than human interaction. This is why we need higher education and continuous improvement (which is, in fact, assured continuous employment for consultants, thankyouverymuch). IBM recently ran a print advertisement on a study on data. It showed that some 43 percent of the information on which managers base decisions is wrong. [citation needed] IBM was correctly selling the pain of working with incorrect information.

So. Managers, ten percent of your team will never get your commands.
Data will be garbled in transmission.

The information will be wrong.

The team will execute the directive wrong.

And the manager will make the wrong decision about half the time.

How on earth can organizations get anything right...?

Let us return to IBM (an unpaid endorsement).

It's 1940 and these 22 young men are operating an electric accounting machine installation somewhere in IBM. We know it's an IBM installation because visible in the photograph are an IBM job time recorder (for logging the start and end of various accounting jobs), one photo of Thomas J. Watson, Sr. and five THINK signs. Can you spot them?

So what do managers -- even today -- want most from their teams, including outside vendors?
Following are seven rules for effective (note: not efficient) communication:

1) A real Effective exchange of information is done in real life in real time. IRL. A direct conversation is Effective. This is not efficient: In-person is effective.

(The Alert Manager is Effective; s/he may not be Efficient)

2) An Efficient exchange of information can be done on email. But it may not be Effective. Imagine the errors and misunderstandings. Fast, but wrong, because,

3) 85 percent of all communication is non-verbal.

4) Communication is a sales pitch. In every transaction in office politics someone is selling and someone is buying. The highest close rate in sales is face-to-face.

5) If an in-person-pitch is not possible, write out the missive and have it hand-delivered by a trusted messenger.

6) Teach Completed Staff Work emphasizing the Commander's Intent.

7) Keep it short. Winston Churchill and Proctor & Gamble are legendary for keeping memos to a single page. War and Marketing. Sometimes hard to tell the difference... Think Napoleon's Corporal.*

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