Do you have a communication standard? No? Foxtrot Alpha India Lima!

Jason SayensmartPRENEUR Blog Series

Nearly 75% percent of communications that are received are interpreted incorrectly!

In today’s world, we have way too many ways to communicate with our co-workers.  Over the phone, text message, email, messaging software, video conferencing, software alerts, and in person just to name a few.  

Companies that want to operate efficiently communicate on purpose.

The military uses the phonetic alphabet to communicate over the phone.  Why?  So that they can have error-free communication.

What makes relay teams successful?

They exchange the baton blindly.  The team understands that if the baton drops…it will affect their overall performance.  It doesn’t matter if they can run faster, if they can’t hand off the baton properly, they will lose the race.

In your company, you have multiple employees working across different departments managing a project.  

Your projects go through different phases and milestones and throughout the process, it’s changing the hands of the employees.  This “hand-off” is where the communication breakdowns happen.

There are 2 important factors that we need to identify.

  1. What causes a poor hand-off in most businesses?
  • Poor or undefined communication – How are we communicating?
  • Lack of training – No one told me that’s what I had to do!
  • Employee error (manual task) – Mistakes happen
  • Lack of job clarity – I didn’t understand
  1. Where are the hand-offs in your company?
  • Project Milestones – Contract > Design > Pre-wire > Trim > Final
  • Department Transition – Sales > Engineering > PM
  • What about multiple handoffs – Sales > Engineering, Accounting & PM

Once you understand where the hand-off points are, you can look at how to standardize the communication in order to minimize the breakdowns.

Decades ago, we used to show up in person to communicate something in our company.  As technology progressed, we moved to email, then text messages, and now messaging software with alerts.  Since a standard was never put in place, your employees are using all of the above which creates massive confusion.

For example, you may create a standard such as the following:

  • Internal Communication 
    • Slack – General internal dialogue
    • E-mail – Company-wide communication
  • External Communication
    • Phone Call – 1st attempt at getting a question answered
    • Email – Follow up on a phone call or when you want something in writing
  • Project Specific Communication
    • Messaging software (Slack, Teams, Etc.) – Client discussions or project discussions with specific channels.
    • Project Management Software – Built-in messaging software

Once you’ve created an outline with your team and set up your software accordingly, you can all agree on the proper way to communicate and hand off projects between departments lowering the risk of breakdowns.

How do you make it stick?

  • Create a culture of continuous improvement
  • Discuss your standard in weekly or monthly meetings
  • Hold employees accountable

One last thing, don’t forget to standardize project-specific terms.   

Is it Rough-In or Pre-wire?  It needs to be defined in all of your pieces of software so define your terms and make them consistent to avoid confusion.

So what did we learn?

Identify handoffs inside of your company and what departments are involved.

Determine how the handoff is communicated and make sure that everyone is trained on how to do it.  Discuss it in your standard meetings to make sure everyone is held accountable.

Communicate on purpose!

About the Author

Jason Sayen

Jason Sayen is the Founder of I am Sayen and brings over 25 years to the custom installation channel.  I am Sayen, helps business owners understand their process through workflow documentation which aligns teams and removes bottlenecks.