Leaders Set Communication Standards

Communication. Always a concern.

Two areas that get the best of us are:

  1. Speed of response
  2. Method of communication

One team I worked with recently was typical:

There was a broad range of expected response times. When we surveyed the group, asking the question “What’s your personal standard for responding to email?” the answers ranged from “immediately” to “48 hours, unless I’m on the road.”

Wow. No wonder they drive each other a bit nuts. The immediate responder gets annoyed by that 48 hour response time – and annoys others by setting a standard that they can’t live up to. The 48 hour person gets annoyed by that standard, and annoys others by waiting so long.

The leader stepped up to say, in essence:

“The expectation around here is that you respond within 24 hours. I apologize for not communicating that more clearly.” And tension dropped.

Because that’s something a leader can do – set a standard. It’s okay for leaders to set communication standards.

This isn’t micromanaging, it’s managing.

While email is the standard, some industries use a lot of instant messaging. In some cases, there’s a hodgepodge of texts, calls, IMs, and emails.

People may grumble about “So-and-so is always texting me. Why don’t they just IM so I can see it on my screen? Or walk over to my desk – they’re 20 feet away!”

Two ideas:

  1. Make it safe for your team members to ask for what they want by telling their coworker what they prefer.
  2. Facilitate a short conversation about preferred methods. Clear it up, and move on.

And it’s okay for the leader to set a standard, perhaps after discussion and consultation, to eliminate tension and get more done.

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