Building an effective Communication Rhythm is child’s play

19th March 2013

When my son Tom was born last year, we wanted our four-year-old Maia to feel special, loved and like a ‘big sister’; but in a way that ensured Tom was safe! So, we told her:

“He’s your brother. You can do what you like with him. The only rule is you can’t pick him up.”

Unfortunately, on the second day of his life, I had to stop her giving him some food. So she now had two rules:

“He’s your brother. You can do what you like with him. The only two rules are that you can’t pick him up or feed him.”

One day later, it became three:

“You can’t pick him up, or feed him, or put wrapping paper on his head”!

So, even though we’d wanted things to be simple, three days in and we had three rules. And the last one related to something that would probably never happen again. Extrapolate this, and she would have 30 rules within a month…

Communication at work can be like that. It probably started off sensibly once. But, over time, more and more communications crept into everyone’s diary, some of which probably originated because one person did one thing wrong, once.

So, with Maia, we thought “we need to start again. How can we achieve our objectives, but keep things simple for her? What’s the one thing we need her to do, which will cover everything?” And we ended up with:

“He’s your brother. You can do what you like with him. But the only rule is that you must make sure he’s ok.”

We then spent time discussing what that meant, so she completely got it.

And it’s worth doing the same with your communications. Ask yourself:

  • What are the key things you want your team to do?
  • What’s the quickest, easiest way to communicate with them, so they do? (ask their opinion too, of course)
  • What communications can you now therefore stop? What new ones should you start?

Doing this helps everyone. After all, nobody minds useless comms stopping.

Also, a new, simplified Communication Rhythm means it’s easy to respond to issues you weren’t expecting, like:

“So daddy, because I have to make sure that Tom’s ok, when I pass him scissors, should I do so handles-first?”

Action point

Schedule time to consider the three bullets above. It might take a while to get right, but the benefits it brings (more time, energy, motivation, focus etc) far outweigh any investment you put in.

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