It seems that there have been communication clangers all over the place of late. No, let me rephrase that and take responsibility; I’ve made mistakes in the communications I’ve sent out recently to managers and leaders.
But, as they say, ‘if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not working hard enough‘; but my mistakes have been in addition to process and output mistakes by team mates and colleagues. Seems we’re under stress and the quality of our work is degrading.
The thing with communications, both internal and external (I manage internal channels currently) is that any mistake, or any controversial detail, is immediately noticeable. The quality of one’s work is on show for all to see. A typo becomes a serious matter and requires a discussion about quality. Publishing or distributing ‘draft 4’ of a message (even under the best orders) when ‘draft 5’ is the ‘real’ version (and buried in someone’s inbox) will kick-off a fairly major review whereby ‘lessons must be learnt’.
Approval cycles are seen by everyone as incredibly important, and yet they are not formalised or managed. The ‘review’ is of course a free for all over email, the ‘phone and red pen on paper.
So yes, mistakes will happen. The ‘previous version’ of a quote from your CEO will get published on your intranet. The numbers against your Key Performance Indicators will be last year’s (because someone ‘copied n pasted’ them, and no one checked if they were correct) and that paragraph that you swore you deleted will creep back in and get published on the front page. Sigh.
Micro-management is not the answer, but well maintained approval cycles would help, and a single owner, responsible for the content of the communiqué would be awesome. I’m dreaming though, yeah?
You might want to consider my idea about separating the ‘content’ from the ‘style’. All comments welcome.
Photo credit: Christoper Isherwood
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