The Organizational Development Muse

Dr. Mark L. Vincent's Blog

Purposeful Organizational Communication: no more signup sheets!

Posted by Mark L. Vincent on Mar 3, 2014 5:30:00 AM

Frustration over slow and low response when signup sheets are posted is a common conversation among work teams, management, and volunteer managers. And still, it remains the go-to method.  Running into a brick wall and hoping to break through anyone?

The problem with signup sheets is not that people are not listening. The problem is that the message is notdouble-hand-pointing-clipart-th being communicated. Sure you made an announcement, but you also decided to keep using a method you know doesn't work.  Lazy is as lazy does!

In Joe Ellis' long ago book, The church on purposehe provides three timeless principles that shoud guide any leader of any organization who needs to communicate, and not just when posting a signup sheet.

1. Assume the mesage did not get through. We often assume it has, but it is estimated up to 70% of messages are not received. Ellis is even more specific when he says: "A first attempt to communicate is never 100% effective. If the message is important, it is wise to provide backup systems. To ensure clarity, it is usually wise to communicate to an extent that seems adequate, and then double the amount."

2. Assume that if it did not get through it was garbled, either in transmission or in receiving. An announcement does not get old if it is explained in a variety of settings, in a variety of ways, by a variety of persons. Planning the message accordingly is what makes the difference.

3. Acknowledgement that the message was received does not necessarily imply acceptance or compliance. Ellis writes, "The most effective communication is two-way, so that feedback is provided."

You might think assuming no-one is listening, assuming you are a poor communicator and working to communicate a message until response is made will produce even more frustration than you currently experience with sign-up sheets, social media, and in-house communications. Consider this illustration. If you have a 5% open rate and 1,000 people recieve an e-mail, just 50 will be looked at. A smaller number will read it. An even smaller number will read it in-depth enough to recall details more than 5 minutes later, and an even smaller amount will respond.

If you want to communicate, do it purposefully, scatter-shot style, multiple mediums, multiple communicators, with awareness of your varied audiences. Repeat....

-mark l vincent



Topics: organizational development consulting, Mark L. Vincent, Design Group International, organizational communication


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