Thoughts about business and economic development in rural areas.

 

September 2008
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Archive for September 26th, 2008

Communication – How Often

Been a long time since my last post. It’s easy to get out of the habit of regular writing and all of a sudden it’s months later. Not the way to use this communications format. And that brings me to today’s topic. How often should communication happen to be effective?

Tough question and the answer can easily be, “It depends.” It depends on the situation and more importantly the type of relationship you are trying to build with those who are the recipients of your communication. If it’s a good friend and they haven’t heard from you in six months they might begin to question the value of the friendship. If it’s an old college or high school acquaintence then every five years at the class reunion might be enough.

But in business and in organizations the answer is also complicated by the type and importance of the message being communicated and that has to be measured from the recipient’s perspective. If the communication is perceived to be of little immediate value then once can be too much. We’ve all been the victim of reckless copying of messages intended for a specific audience. The sender thinks, heck I’ll send this note out to everyone in the building so I can keep everyone ‘in the loop’. Well intentioned perhaps, but probably 90% of those getting that e-mail consider it just a short step above spam.

On the other hand, we’ve all experienced a situation where we’ve felt blindsided when an action is taken or an announcement is made. “How the heck did this all come about?” Obviously a case of too little communication and badly timed at that.

So what do we do? The best thing to do is to set down and develop a communication plan that answers some basic questions.

  • Who are we communicating with? (Individuals and groups)
  • How often should we communicate?
  • What’s the best method of communication. (What? Isn’t everything done by email?)
  • Should this vary by group or individual? (The answer here is usually, ‘yes.’)
  • Who’s going to do all of this?
  • How are we going to get feedback on the communication effectiveness?
  • And finally…What are we going to communicate.

I put the most obvious one last and a good arguement can be made that this should be first but I put it at the end because in most cases that’s all we think about and skip the rest. Bad move.