There are five hundred fifty seven thousand things going on in any given moment in my school community (I haven’t actually counted…that’s just a rough estimate). How ‘bout yours? Same? That’s what I thought. Also, there are many people whose lives are deeply impacted by each of those things in any given moment. So, it couldn’t be more important to communicate effectively.
Like you, I don’t have all of the answers. In fact, sometimes I feel like I don’t have very many at all. I’m thrilled to be learning that its not always immediate answers that people are looking for…sometimes it’s simply immediate communication. And on top of that, it’s often just the basics that make the most impact, especially if those basics lead to ongoing dialogue and authentic partnerships.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, or if you know me, you know that I can be long winded at times (possibly an understatement). I have a lot to say and I enjoy saying it! Over the years I’ve worked to understand and adapt that love of comprehensive communication to meet my needs and the needs of my various audiences. I’m not fully there, but I’m certainly on the path.
I communicate with diverse groups of people on a daily basis and I’m learning that each group, and often times each individual, has different needs. There are some standards, and there are only so many hours in each day, but I’m working hard to refine my style to meet as many needs as possible…including my own. Here’s a process that’s been working pretty well lately from a organizational leadership standpoint…I’m calling it R3 (reduce, reach out, & respond):
1. Reduce: See if you can say or write what you’re trying to communicate in half as many words as initially come to mind. I bet you can. People are busy processing lots of stuff all the time. Easily digestible messages are often better received.
2. Reach Out: Put as few things on to-do lists as possible. If you don’t have answers, turn and reach out to those who might. Also, do so quickly. Even directly as someone I serve is sitting in my office asking a questions that I can’t answer I’ve found it effective (and appreciated) to turn and quickly shoot an e-mail or make a phone call to someone who can. It keeps the ball rolling, shows progress, and again, keeps a task from ending up on a list instead of in motion.
3. Respond: Don’t leave your office at the end of the day with any e-mails in your inbox that have not been addressed in one way or another. With each day I’m getting better at quickly sorting through the hundred plus e-mails I get. I’m finding that one of the keys to effective organizational communication is making sure to respond to each response-required message before I leave the office each day. Again, immediate answers are great but not require, it’s a demonstrated commitment progress that helps build strong partnerships and drive positive progress. You should never hear, “Did you get my e-mail?”
As you can imagine, this is a work in progress for me. Sometimes I nail it and sometime I fall short. I’m always working on it. If you’ve got a moment, let me know what works for you…your input is welcome and appreciated:)!
Live. Learn. Lead.
Dream Big. Work Hard. Be Well.