Leadership

You’re Not Communicating Enough

With COVID-19, and schools going online, offline, partly online, maybe closed, maybe open, maybe only partly open (whew!), people are getting bombarded with messages and emails and notifications flying at them from all angles.

And yet, no one feels informed… why is that?

I thought I’d share some food for thought that I learned years ago when studying organizational leadership.

Seven Times!

If you think you’re communicating with your team (or parents, students, etc) enough, you’re not. 
Patrick Lencioni, author of The Advantage, says employees don’t believe a leader’s message until they hear it 7 times. Seven times for crying out loud!! No wonder my students didn’t believe me when I told them everyone indents their paragraphs, not just students in my class…
So how do we get to the magic number seven? To get there, Lencioni says we need to Create Clarity, Overcommunicate Clarity, and Reinforce Clarity. (He actually says a LOT of things, but if you want the full scoop, read the book…)

Two Words

How do we do that?
Well, Lencioni has some ideas about that, too, but for right now I just have two words for you:
Strategic Messaging
If we want people to be clear on our message (and to believe it), then there is no such thing as too much communication. We can’t be afraid to repeatedly reinforce ideas or information that is vital to the organization (or school).

Many Questions

Some questions to ask yourself, and maybe those around you:

  • Is everyone on the same page in terms of what should be communicated and why?
  • If messages are flowing down from the top, or after limited attendance meetings, how are they being disseminated? Does everyone know that? Is everyone on board with that?
  • If someone missed the message the first five times, how can they get connected to the messages? 
  • Where are these messages? Are they on motivational posters in hallways? Archived on a google group board? Or is it a fend for yourself approach to getting information?
  • How are we helping people get, understand, and implement the message if they’re struggling? 

And ultimately, who is owning the message? 

Again, according to Lencioni:

Leaders must not abdicate or delegate responsibility for community and reinforcement of clarity. Instead, they have to play the tireless role of ensuring that employees throughout the organization are continually and repeatedly reminded about what is important.

Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage

More Readings
You’re Not Communicating Often Enough With Your TeamThe Untapped Advantage of Organizational Health

2 Comments

  • Scott M.

    Thanks for the reminder, Laura. I think many of us know much of this in formation, but it’s vital that we maintain and improve our focus regarding communication- especially now.

    • Laura Spencer – San Diego, CA – I've been teaching since I was old enough to speak! Former high/middle school English and Yearbook teacher, I am now an edu administrator focused on transformative learning experiences for students and teachers. In my (not so) spare time, I also teach college courses on learning design, Ed Tech, and educational pedagogy.

      Laura Spencer

      Yea, definitely not new info but a reminder that when we get complacent, it falls apart… we need to be super aware of communications these days.

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