Mountain climbing is like challenges employee communicators face


Our IT guru periodically suggests that we clean up our overflowing email inboxes. And that always reminds me that I really should keep on top of this.

The good news is that this morning’s cleanout revealed some interesting trends about what’s on the minds of clients and other people who communicate. Here’s a sampling of the themes that have been running through my inbox:

  • Measurement, measurement and more measurement. “We need to make sure this communication works. And we need to demonstrate our team’s value,” said one client. “Otherwise, there’s just no point.”
  • Relentless pressure. “Can you help me with this?” asked a client about a small but vital project. It’s on my performance goals, and I’ve been meaning to get to it all year, but I’ve been too busy doing my day job to get to it.” And with increased expectations and low headcounts, it doesn’t seem that the pressure will let up any time soon.
  • It’s complicated. Today’s version of that old Mark Twain line about “not having time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one” is this: “We didn’t have time to simplify that complex subject, so we communicated anyway. And now employees don’t understand what this is or what to do.” That’s unfortunate, since I would posit that simplifying complex content is one of the most important roles we play today.
  • Email: Love it, hate it, can’t kill it. I’m hoping that an evil genius somewhere (Hello, Microsoft!) is working on solving the problem of so much email, so little time. We’re completely reliant on the darn channel, but its effectiveness declines every day. Meanwhile, communicators are clamoring for ways to cut through the clutter. Radical idea #1? Set guidelines that force everyone to send less. Radical idea #2? Make every e-mail about the recipient, not the sender. (This means you, HR, IT and senior management).

The good news: I’ve deleted 300 e-mails. (Only 3,000 more to go.)

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