Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Choosing your communication channels, part of Managing Your Manager.
To effectively connect with someone does require a thoughtful message, but it requires much more. For example, quality communication skills. I mean, what good is a well-crafted message if delivered poorly? One other variable to consider is the medium through which you send your message or what we typically refer to as the communication channel. The interactions involved in managing your boss are among the most important you'll engage. Thus, selecting the most appropriate channel becomes crucial.
If you choose the right one, they'll be attentive and more likely to really hear you. If you select a suboptimal channel, you risk having the message muddled. So, let's talk about getting it right. First, we'll consider your major communication channel options. Then, we'll think about how to select the right one. In terms of channels, there are several usual suspects to consider, but your first decision is whether or not your message should be delivered in private versus the presence of others.
The short answer here is to err on being private. If the team sees you offering up information or asking certain questions that they might construe as managing the boss, well, over time, that can harm how you're perceived. Okay, so what are your major options? They are face-to face, telephone or video conferencing, email or some form of note. Most of the time, the best bet if it's possible is face-to-face. When communicating directly face-to-face, the capacity for information exchange is huge and in addition, if there's any confusion or misunderstanding of any kind, you have a chance in real time to speak up and fix it.
The next option is a telephone. Still a great choice because it's so convenient and it allows certain non-verbal cues such as tone of voice to clearly come through. Not to mention if you miss them, you can leave a message so they can still hear your voice. Very similar but technologically a touch more difficult to pull off is video conferencing. It's now quite common and in many ways does rival face-to-face communication. Next up is our old friend, email. It's not as popular as it used to be, but it's efficient and does provide a record of the exchange if that's of value to you.
Unfortunately, we tend to overuse email, and adding to the pile in your boss's inbox isn't always the best strategy. Which brings me to one of the best nearly forgotten channels, actual physical notes, whether that's a Post-it note or a piece of paper. They're personal and non-intrusive, and when they're found by your boss, it creates a reassuring feeling that while they're away, you're staying very productive. Okay, so how do you choose which channel to use? It's a little bit of a trick question.
You want a balance of channels so you don't overuse any particular one. However, the general rule is, if the message is urgent, go for the fastest channel you have, whether that's face-to-face, or the telephone, or instant message, but choose high quality if it's available, like face-to-face. If the message is somehow sensitive, but not urgent, wait this time, and again, go for face-to-face. If you feel you might need confidentiality at all, the best is always face-to-face.
Today, more than ever before, you have lots of different ways to reach out and connect with someone. Think about your options, then think about your message, and then you'll be ready to choose the best channel. That way, you'll not only have a good message, but it will be delivered in a way that increases the odds your boss hears it correctly.
- Explore how self-reflection is a starting point for understanding others.
- Review they ways that social capital (credibility) relate to performance, recognition, and helping others.
- Recall different kinds of communication channels you can establish with your manager.
- Identify the most effective ways to promote your accomplishments.
- Review methods for documenting issues that help you communicate up.
- Explore key strategies for working with a remote manager.
- Examine ways to repair a damaged relationship with your manager.