Operator please connect me: the telephone game in business projects

Remember the telephone game?

NEMT President Linda Allard

This week I listened to a story of broken communication that reminded me of the telephone game. Remember the one where someone thinks of a phrase and then they whisper it in the next person’s ear? This continues to the end of the line and the last person says what they heard. The resulting sentence is often hilarious and everyone laughs at how this could happen.

Or how about Ozzie Osborne? He has difficulty hearing and there are a lot of jokes about not understanding what he says. It is all fun when it is a game or for entertainment, but not when it is how we run the communication for our project.

Think back to a time when bad communication caused an issue for a project you were working on. As a person running a project, effective communication should be a key part of your job.

What exactly is effective communication? In my opinion, effective communication is finding the right communication method to relay the key (or critical) information to your team.

Remember that communication is a two-way street so you also need to make sure that you educate your group on how and when you want to receive your information. Communicating effectively is not just a decision that you will write better emails and respond quickly. You need to create an actual communication plan that you share with your team. They need to know what their part is and how they participate in your plan.

Creating a communication plan can be a scary thought. There are many ways to do it and lots of great information on effective communication that you can find. If you have trouble writing effectively you may find it helpful to get a basic book on how to communicate.

Here are a few small tips to get you started:

  • Learn the style of those you need to communicate with and change your way to fit their needs.
  • Make sure you explain to everyone involved how you want to be communicated with. When you do this share your reasons – it will help your team to understand and follow your guidelines.
  • Make sure to check with your team periodically to make sure that the communication you are providing is working for them.
  • Last, remember that sending a report is not communicating with your team. Reports are often necessary and we need to document the project but using the report as communication can bury the real critical information a team member needs. Make sure to use the report simply as a tool to document and keep track of the project, but not as your main tool for communicating with your group.
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About Linda Allard

Linda Allard is the president of NEMT.
This entry was posted in Operations. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Operator please connect me: the telephone game in business projects

  1. Thank you for your article regarding communication. Many of us in management often think that an email or meeting will suffice for communication, but it is the true understanding and perception of the person you are communicating with that should determine the presentation. It is definitely different with all recipients.

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