One of my favorite management experts, Mark Horstman of Manager Tools, likes to say,
“Email is for the convenience of the sender.”
In The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni advocates “cascading communication.” The idea is simple. Members of the executive team agree on a common and consistent set of messages that they will in turn communicate to each of their staffs. Then, those staff members will communicate the next message to their staffs. This continues until everyone in the company has received the communication quickly, consistently, and personally.
Mary Coffin reinforced these ideas at 90 Ideas when she shared her idea “Communication: Don’t underestimate human interaction.”
Don’t let email or documents be the only cascading conduit for information.
Instead, be intentional about actual human contact. You get verbal and non-verbal feedback, and you help people realize they’re important.
I have a sacred commitment to meet with my assistant once a week for a structured one-on-one. I went through a very heavily scheduled patch where I was on the road a lot, and our meetings moved to telephone conversations for several weeks. During one of those rushed phone conversations with my previous assistant of three years, Ashleigh, I asked “This phone thing is working okay as a temporary measure, right?”
There was a long pause.
“I miss our one-on-ones,” she said after a bit.
I was struck by this—we were so accustomed to the face-to-face that she didn’t even really consider the phone conversations a “real” one-on-one.
Leaders value human interaction.
Many forms of communication are for the convenience of the sender and the efficiency of the organization. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s enough.
Thanks for reading,
This post is part of a set of posts inspired by the Business Record’s “90 Ideas in 90 Minutes” event in September 2017. Learn more, download a pdf, and see all the speakers here.
Post 1: Leaders Develop Everyone
Post 2: Leaders Encourage Thinking “A Step Above”
Post 3: Leaders Ask “Does it Need to be Said?”
Post 4: Leaders Use Time Wisely: Rethink the Block
Post 5: Leaders Champion Inclusion and Diversity
Post 6: Leaders Stay Hydrated
Post 7: Leaders Make Changes Stick
Post 8: Leaders Engineer an Experience
Post 9: Leaders Measure More than the Average
Post 10: Leaders Pay it Forward
Post 11: Leaders Watch Out for Doubt and Fear