Problem-Solving Success Tip: Communicate! Don't Leave Your Key Stakeholders Guessing
by Jeanne Sawyer
We are generally not very good about keeping others informed about the progress we’re making, especially if there isn’t much. You’re more likely to get support and understanding if you get the word out honestly about what is and isn’t happening. As you start your problem-solving project, establish a communication plan and follow it. Specify who needs what information about your effort, when they need it and how you are going to provide it. Make the plan appropriate to your problem, the culture of your company and the individuals involved.
Different participants in the project will need different information. For example, the members of the problem-solving team need all the details about everything. Managers who want the problem solved but aren’t personally participating in the resolution generally need assurance that things are proceeding appropriately, or timely notification if they aren’t. They don’t want to guess or wade through a ton of detail to try to figure out how things stand. For them, regular status reports are generally sufficient. Nobody likes unpleasant surprises, so be sure to identify who needs to know what about the various bumps you’ll hit along road.
Once you’ve developed your communications plan, tell everyone involved what it is -- then do what you promise. It seems obvious, but this is a major failing in many projects. Make changes as necessary. If people know that they’re getting the information that they need when they need it, they won’t waste your time with status-check phone calls or emails. Your meetings will be shorter and easier to manage because you won’t have extra people coming just in case something comes up that they should know.
Copyright 2006. Jeanne Sawyer. All Rights Reserved.
Jeanne Sawyer may be contacted at http://www.sawyerpartnership.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeanne Sawyer is an author, consultant, trainer and coach who helps her clients solve expensive, chronic problems, such as those that cause operational disruptions and cause customers to take their business elsewhere. These tips are excerpted from her book,When Stuff Happens: A Practical Guide to Solving Problems Permanently. Find out about it, and get more free information on problem solving at her web site: http://www.sawyerpartnership.com.