How To Prevent Communication Fumbles


There is a tendency to treat communication like a quarterback treats a running play:

“Hand it off and hope if gets upfield.”

What happens often is the proverbial whisper game, where the original message is distorted slightly at each transfer and becomes something altogether different. Managers send the original communication, and hope that every touchpoint keeps the integrity of the message intact.

While some variation in interpretation or details may occur, this can be disrupting if the important meanings or context gets misconstrued.

So, can leaders ensure that the proper message flows through your organization? Is it possible at all? Here are some thoughts to help make sure the carriers don’t “fumble the ball”:

  • Train your team on being better communicators. If you want your people to convey proper messages, then show them how. Develop their awareness, ability, and understanding of how and why proper communication is important to the lifeblood of the organization.
  • Consider communication a core culture value. Sometimes, making this a part of your culture will get this thinking into the DNA or your company. By putting communication out there as vital to the company’s mission, you stress it’s importance and ingrain it into your team’s psyche.
  • Be clear how regular communications are to be handled. If it’s during the process of regular business, then incorporate how information is to be handled into the workflow process. Set up self-working mechanisms that ensure that forms, emails, and other information flow to all needed parties timely and completely. Then monitor the processes (see below) and adjust as needed to ensure they self-work.
  • When handling unique or specific messages, state how they should be handled. If a conversation is done in confidence, state that to those it’s divulged to, make the confidentiality clear, and tell those how you are trusting them with the information. If discussions are to be transferred to others through the people you’ve had them with, then make sure they understand the facts and context to minimize any error or misinterpretation.
  • Monitor the communication process. Besides tracking systems, you can ask for feedback on how information was received, or have discussions or surveys with recipients to reiterate the message and ensure all parties are on the same page. This doesn’t need to be done all the time, but by spot-checking and having various people follow-up, the organization will help ensure that there is a meeting of the minds in communicating.
  • Don’t use “lack of time” as an excuse. As with any vital piece to the company, proper and effective communication takes time and conscious thought. Don’t give brief points and absolve your responsibility because you’ve stated it once. Repeating, patience, and follow-through are critical to any message getting to it’s final destination in time and intact.

Are you a quarterback communicator who hands it off? Or are you a carrier that goes through every obstacle to make sure the ball (message) reaches it’s goal?

How can you ensure better information flow in your teams? Share with us below!


About Paul LaRue

My goal - To encourage you to lead & influence others with positive impact.

Posted on March.8.2015, in Leadership. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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