Communication is one of those topics that come up with a metronomic regularity. It raises its head in almost every meeting we have in one guise or another and is one of those things that you can never have enough of. Bad communications always seems to be someone else’s fault. As George Bernard Shaw said though, ‘The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.’
We spend a lot of time creating the illusion yet most of it is down-load. It comes from on high. What we struggle with most is communication across the organisation and so called upward communication. It’s something we’ve struggled with for a long time and this is the year I’m going to try and crack it.
It was Rollo May, the American existential psychologist that said ‘Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.’
It is impossible to build the kind of service that I want without at least attempting to sort this out. I must note though that I am dealing with human evolution here. The ability to communicate is not a recent invention. The inability to communicate is not a modern problem.
We talked about it at the ICT Services Customer Focus group, a diagonal team set up to look at such internal issues as well as (as the name suggests) everything customer. What we all agreed is that getting around and meeting new people helps. It breaks down barriers and develops a better understanding of the issues and problems that people are facing. We all agreed to try and do more as well as encourage our colleagues. Again this is all part of Guerrilla Working but I didn’t’ want to say I told you so.
Some of the group would like to have this set up in a formal way, through buddying, mentoring or job shadowing and while I’m not averse to this I think it is incumbent upon all of us just to make it happen. I wonder what they do? I think I’ll go and ask. It would be an ideal use of the five percent of development time that we should all have set aside.
So what else? Well we can encourage our immediate managers to do better by asking questions about what is going on. We can ask the same thing of other managers and colleagues (not that managers can’t be colleagues). We can also start doing all the things we said we would do with new starters including a proper induction and a personal introduction to those people they need to know.
It’s all in our gift to make a difference.