This is an interesting topic that’s been on my mind a lot, but particularly in the last two weeks. Whilst this isn’t a formal blog per-se, I will try my best not to let it become a rant (as I’m sure my colleagues, family and friends will agree has happened before).
So a big problem I’ve seen recently seen and heard about in projects and in work (not just corporate business, this can apply anywhere from community organisations and volunteer groups all the way up to military operations) recently is people either failing to communicate or people not taking in communication.
When you start a project with somebody, communication is such a fundamentally important principle. If you don’t establish your aims and goals and expectations clearly from the start, you’re setting the stage for something to go wrong immediately. I’ve seen this happen so many times and in the advisory role, experienced it myself making the mistake of not asking enough. I’m not saying we can’t trust anyone and must be brutally anal about every hair on every brass tack, but hidden surprises can be dropped on anyone, any time and often the blame will be shifted to you because “you never said we couldn’t/shouldn’t or I didn’t know we couldn’t/shouldn’t”.
Likewise, it’s important to engage in listening to each other’s side of the conversation and if you’re unsure about something, ask. As the proverb heard through pop culture says assumption “makes an ass of u and me”, this is often the case between a service provider and the client when the service user suddenly has more pressure put on to pick up the pieces.
Once you’ve established this pact for communication, stick to it and update each other regularly and make sure you keep this going all the way up to your go live date. Once you’re past this, comes a really really crucial part that most people overlook. Make sure you have a post-live support plan of sorts. If this is a product, make sure there’s a service level agreement to make sure end users and clients aren’t abandoned and make sure this is clear from the beginning of the project (not just tacked on at the end by needy clients or an afterthought by the service provider).
Now to the other side of communication. If you’re a comms. provider (published or broadcast media, PR, social media, promotion & marketing etc), clarity is beyond required, it’s the very foundation to the trust you will try to build with your audience. It’s always best to be honest with your audience and if something cannot yet be said or at all, explain that to people that ask questions (this is particularly important with confidential information, product releases, trade secrets etc). If you hide it or fabricate the information and you’re found out you might lose the trust of your audience and it may take a long time to rebuild that trust again. If something can be said though, shout about it, represent the brand you’re working for and keep reminding people why you are awesome and people should be subscribed to your content (even in a human sense if you’re not a place or entity that provides a subscription service).
At the end of the day, as good as we are at listening and interpreting, non of us have yet developed a natural ability to read minds (voodoo, magic or technological methods are a different story), so if we don’t communicate our intentions in one form or another, then things may not turn out the way you expect or sometimes the right people may not always get the right message.
Have a great week everyone.