Wouldn’t it be great to have enough foresight to identify, anticipate, plan, and prevent the next emergency from landing in your lap? Whether it’s the simple act of communicating change before it happens and ensuring everyone is aware of what’s coming next (i.e. training on a new software implementation, outage alerts, or upcoming events on campus) or reacting to a large unforeseeable event that has the potential to bring an institution to its knees, leadership is constantly challenged to make critical decisions about who to inform and when.
Last week while grocery shopping at the local Harris Teeter, there was a cashier ringing up a customer at the front of the line. The cashier looked surprised when she finished ringing up the order, and commented on the ‘buy one, get one’ bacon deal. The cashier even commented on how the price of bacon had soared in recent months.
Had the cashier not been told what the specials were for the week? There is a stack of flyers that sits at the front of the store in the weekly circular stand. The store also sends an email out each week to its mailing list highlighting noteworthy deals. So how is it that an employee on the front line is unaware of the pricing of its products clearly marked on sale? In this instance, the cashier didn’t take the time to educate herself on the specials. Yet as a consumer, she was very pleased to learn of the discount.
The bigger concern is that the business didn’t ensure that all employees were on same page, and so the customer educated her. To prevent this from happening more often, the business should take the opportunity to inform its entire team, perhaps by adding all employees to the same newsletter that is sent out to all customers on Wednesday with the week’s circular, or posting a stand of weekly circulars within the break room.
Internal communication breakdowns are not uncommon. We’ve worked with customers in the past that have told us things that others in our own organizations failed to communicate. Sometimes the information is minor in nature, but other times, the nature of the information can have major ripple effects elsewhere on a dependent project.
As an example, a client recently mentioned on a project call that they were working on an integration that needed to be delivered before the project (a system migration), could complete. The project team running the system migration had not been informed of the dependency, nor was any documentation shared about the requirements. Instead, the customer informed the business that there was an additional work stream running independent of the migration with the same vendor.
Communication styles can differ depending on who sits in the corner office, but the planning around how and what to communicate should be an institution-wide decision. Before your staff comes to you with the next emergency, take the time to educate those around you with the important messages that should be over communicated to the customers.
Don’t let the customer educate the company. Be informed, and carry that message outward.