Have you ever left a meeting thinking to yourself, “Why wasn’t that information just sent out in an e-mail?” On the other hand, have you ever received an e-mail that prompted you to wonder, “Why wasn’t a meeting scheduled to discuss this?” Maybe you can also recall instances when coworkers instant messaged you when your status was deliberately set to “Away”, sent text messages that should have been phone calls, or even escalated something to leadership before you even knew there was a problem. This list of potentially aggravating scenarios could go on and on. It happens, in part, because of assumptions we may hold around how we should communicate and because there are more ways to communicate now than ever before. However, just because we have more ways to communicate, does not mean that we are communicating any more effectively. Sometimes, it’s just the opposite!
At Effective Edge, we want to help ensure that every communication is necessary and meaningful, so that we can connect our time to what matters most. Our recommendation for preventing these ineffective and costly interactions within your organization is to develop a Communication Protocol (a clear set of guidelines) around how and when to communicate in various situations.
Why develop a Communication Protocol?
When there are clear expectations and processes in place of how and when to communicate in various scenarios, we remove any assumptions around communication thus eliminating the “user error” component. Your coworkers know when to take what course of action, and time and clarity are restored by all.
Who should develop the Communication Protocol?
For the smoothest development, roll out and adaptation, leadership support and participation are a must. If leaders do not model what is decided upon, neither will others, which is why it is critical that they recognize the value in this process. Collaboration from stakeholders on various teams and departments should be included in the development as well.
What does it take to develop a Communication Protocol?
A few hours of meaningful and focused discussion regarding what the expectations and procedures would be for various types of communication scenarios are vital. For example, when someone has a massive file to share, should they e-mail it, consuming a significant amount of space in their coworkers’ inbox, or post it to a collaboration site such as SharePoint and e-mail the hyperlink? If someone has performance feedback, how should it be delivered– email, face to face, phone call? What is the proper path to escalation? When is it necessary to schedule a meeting? Taking the time to think through, discuss, agree upon and document these processes is critical.
What might a Communication Protocol look like?
In the end, a completed Communication Protocol may be a simple document distributed to every employee in your organization. It could be a physical laminated diagram or brochure to be displayed in each workspace, or even a PowerPoint presentation with easy access on a collaborative site or shared hard drive.
Does Effective Edge offer any additional support?
Absolutely. You can do this yourself. Or, if you want an objective 3rd party to help support you and ensure this development session goes as smoothly as possible, consider having one of Effective Edge’s highly skilled facilitators guide you and your organization through the process. We will make certain no stone goes unturned and that all aspects of communication are discussed, agreed upon and documented, with ongoing support provided. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.