Open communication channels – getting it right

January 29, 2020

How to discuss a problem effectively and only when needed

 

 

 

I’ve always made it clear that I’m a big believer in open communication channels and have no intention now on reneging on this value, which is part of Marakoudja’s DNA.

 

At the same time, honesty is not always the best policy. How can we decide what can be communicated and what cannot, including the when and how of saying it?

 

What’s the rush? Do we need to say it here and now? Is it better to air a problem even before its ramifications can be known, in order to prevent matters getting out of hand? Or should we take time to analyse the situation before bringing everything out in the open?

 

Do we have enough information so that the client can assess the impact of the problem and weigh up the measures that need to be taken to deal with it and inform others about it?

 

To tell or not to tell, that is the question!

 

To help you make the decision, here are four questions (1):

 

1. Will the value of the information change as time passes?

2. Are we reasonably sure that the information is correct?

3. Will the information we want to put across add something positive?

4. Will the information be useful to those we wish to inform?

 

Here’s an example to flesh out my remarks.

 

A problem is identified in a project by members of the project team, but the client is unaware of the issue. Should something be said?

 

1. Will the value of the information change as time passes?

 

At what point or in which circumstances might the problem arise? This will determine the time available for both telling people about it and finding a solution.

 

2. Are we reasonably sure that the information is correct?

 

Avoid making statements that are too vague or alarmist. Stick to facts, not to feelings. What exactly is the problem? What are the potential impacts? Under what circumstances precisely could it happen? The more accurate the information, the easier it will be to decide what and how to communicate on the issue. This will in turn enhance the transfer of information.

 

3. Will sharing the information help the client in any way?

 

Simply making the client aware of the problem should enable them to enact measures in the areas within their remit. If the client knows about the issue, they can help find an overall solution too. Conversely, if the issue concerns only the team and will not have any impact on the solution or the product to be delivered, telling the client will not add value in any way and you’ll simply be wasting their time, for example: a relational clash within the team, or problems using the team’s own tools that will not affect the timetable nor the actual quality of the deliverables.

 

4. Will the information be useful to those we wish to inform?

 

When communicating, you have to choose who you communicate to. We are not seeking to conceal information but rather respect the time of our business partners by not burdening them with trivialities.

 

 

What about you? Do you have similar or different experiences? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment. I'll be happy to discuss the issue with you!

 

Artwork: Mélanie Bénard Tremblay, 2020 © Marakoudja.

 

[1] Adapted from Socrate "filter" - according to social medias

 

 

 

 

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Michèle Richard | +41 79 770 65 86 | michele.richard@marakoudja.com