alacrity in action
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press-while-talking from flickr by leef_smith under cc-nd-nc-2.0I remember a good few years ago I was participating in some internal training lead by an external management consultant. One of the key messages he tried to pass on was that a majority of problems in organisations are simply due to poor communication.

Sure enough in most organisations I have experienced since, sooner or later, someone would point out insufficient, inadequate or simply misleading communication. Thus improving communication, mainly between management and the staff was repeatedly being professed as the golden solution. Lacking motivation, missing alignment, frustrated employees, and poor results of the annual engagement surveys would all be eradicated if we could only get better at comms. Somehow, this always seems to mean more emails. Hands up if your organisation has a team dedicated to disseminating information via this benevolent medium.

Fortunately some organisations eventually realise what has been filling up their employees’ spam folders. Visual information radiators and company wide stand-up meetings can go some way towards bridging the communication gap. They are by far superior to the corporate email blast.That is if we assume that one of the essential ingredients that people in a company are missing is information.

I suspect that a lot of the time we are not craving more information, we don’t actually want better comms. Does anyone ever say “I know, what I really need is for that weekly email in my inbox to have all the relevant information I need”. Most people would rather not get any emails at all.

What we really want is a dialogue. We want to be listened to, we want empathy, we want understanding. These require something quite different than just “better comms”, they require trust and respect and transparency.

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