Jagdish came to me with a question – can a leader ever overcommunicate?
I remember reading a mail from the CEO to all managers in that organization that they are going through a major shift in their business strategy and that all managers should follow the three rules of change management. Communicate. Communicate more. Communicate even more.
I could sense Jagdish’s dilemma.
Would he be repeating himself, at the cost of boring the recipients of his communication?
Would they just ‘mute’ his messages and mails?
If so, would not the purpose of communication – to open conversations – be impacted negatively?
His questions were: what should / could I communicate?
How frequently should I communicate?
Would broadcasting messages – over email, messaging platforms or maybe even as a recording – an internal podcast?
What would be your answer to Jagdish?
There is no one universal standard on the quantum or the types of communication.
Look at it from two perspectives.
In this context, what the organization would like to convey – and you, as a middle manager, need to represent the organization policies, strategies etc and communicate. In communicating, it is not enough to just broadcast or make it a one way push channel. One needs to also assess if the intended recipients have received and understood the communication.
The second is the perspective of the recipient of the communication.
As all of us would have experienced, we are all bombarded with multiple types of communication in increasing intensity.
Whether they are notifications from apps or breaking news alerts or emails where we are one of a hundred others – victims of reply-all culture.
Over time, we develop our own algorithms to filter out what we consider as noise at that time.
So, the basic question is – what is in it for me? Why should I even bother about knowing what is being thrust on me?
So, a good communication plan will have the elements of
- Key messages
- Actions desired from the recipient, as relevant
- Showing respect for the recipient’s time [by keeping the messages brief]
- Treating the recipient with respect [and not dumb down everything]
- Create some curiosity to get them to reach out and pull more details from you
Hence, the answer to Jagdish’s question: is it possible to overcommunicate is .. Yes, if you are insensitive to the recipient’s disposition – but, by being sensitive to the recipient’s needs and constraints, make sure that communication has the desired impact.