First, that phrase for this post — “I’m just sayin’,” drives me nuts. I hate it. Now that I feel better for sharing…
A diversity consulting firm called The Novations Group, apparently surveyed a couple thousand managers, and concluded that senior managers were poor communicators. For this, they seem to want acclaim…
Survey respondents blamed senior management for (in order of survey popularity):
1. Relying too much on e-mail.
2. Assuming a single message is enough.
3. Having no feedback loop in place.
4. Messages lacking clarity.
To this, I say “hmmmm…”
Nonetheless, there is some truth here.
We all rely too much on email. Email is great for simple information/data sharing. It breaks down when we try to have conversations, include emotion, or the worst: we try to manage by email.
Walk down the hall or pick up the damned phone. Email is the worst medium on the planet for any communication requiring acknowledged understanding, purposeful dialog, or meaning other than the simple written word. There is no defined ‘subtlety’ in emails. And managers shouldn’t use it as a proxy.
Another pox on communication occurred while we were gutting mid-management from organizations. In flattening org charts, we forgot that most on-the-ground communications with employees was done with middle managers. Today, they are either extinct or a bit harried from the evolution of their jobs.
Further, much of what we as senior leaders do has at least a modicum of confidentiality. Next thing you know, we’re acting like everything we say and do is some state secret.
The problem, of course, is in the absence of communication, our employees fill in all the details, blanks, and relevant information themselves. From spotty knowledge, connecting rumor dots, or simply making it up as they go. None bodes well for us while trying to lead an organization in this age.
Next week, I’ll post some tips and techniques for communications that, though maybe not necessarily “easy,” they probably won’t leave visible scars.