Communicating with Tight Deadlines

How does communication differ for a leader who has tight deadlines compared to those who run a continuous business, i.e. no deadlines to meet?

For any business to run successfully, those involved must get their communication right – this means being effective. At the same time, they must do so within the least possible time – this is being efficient.

Effectiveness & Efficiency

For example, when passing down instructions to your team members, if you do it only once, but they act on it INCORRECTLY, then you’re ineffective. If you have to REPEAT IT MANY TIMES until they act on it correctly, then you’re being inefficient.

The main challenge is to strike a balance between effectiveness and efficiency—you should only have to instruct your team members ONCE for them to act on it CORRECTLY.

Deadlines VS No Deadlines.

For those who work without strict deadlines, you can afford to spend your time (be less efficient) and ensure that your communication is more effective. Furthermore, if you make any mistakes, you will have time to correct it.

However, if you work with strict deadlines, every error in communicating is going to be an expensive mistake. You have to get it right the first time, or it’s going to rob you of your precious time.

Here are some guidelines to increase the efficiency of your communication:

  1. Clarify Your Outcome

One of the first things is to clearly determine what you wish to achieve from your communication. Are you instructing your listeners to act, asking for their feedback, or simply passing new information?

  1. Customize Your Communication

Since you want your listeners’ to give you their undivided attention, you’ll have to start with something that will immediately get them interested.

If you’re communicating to the marketing team for instance, instead of “There has been some restructuring in this project” say “The marketing budget has been cut by 20%.”

  1. Stick to the Point

To do this, keep your message to few points instead of discussing everything at one go—three to five points is ideal. If you have a long message, consider two or more separate communications.

  1. Keep it Simple

When presenting information, use bullet points or numbers instead of giving them everything at one go. Instead of chunky paragraphs, data should be presented in table or graph forms, so it’s easy to digest and act upon.

  1. Get Immediate Feedback

Once you have finished, ask for feedback to see if they’ve understood what you mean.

At a face-to-face encounter, you could say something like, “Just so that we’re all on the same wavelength, why don’t you tell me what you’ve understood from my instructions?” Or you could just ask “What questions do you have for me?”

Communicating successfully in this era has become more challenging because of the dynamism of the business world.One important lesson to remember is that there is no right or wrong way to communicate; it’s how well you are able to achieve your desired outcome with maximum success (effectively) using the least possible resources (efficiently).

Good luck!

This article was created by Gulshan Harjani, and was also posted on The Jakarta Post – 31 March 2008

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