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Communication is as easy as toothpaste, right?


Mary LincolnAll mums and dad’s recognise this kind of conversation, “Teeth Time!” “come on, time to do your teeth” “come into the bathroom please, time to brush your teeth”. How many times have you found yourself saying the same thing over and over again until finally you have to almost shout "Brush your teeth, now!"? That usually does the trick. Most parents understand that redundant communication, coupled with an escalating sense of urgency, is integral to communicating because it gets the job done. This is also true when trying to change behaviour and embed new working practices or process in organisations.  

Saying it once, brilliantly or badly, never works.  

In the past, I've often found myself sending communications in different ways to support and repeat a message given by a mid-level managers to a large teams. Not everyone takes in that message first time round, and over the course of time, immediate behavioural change hasn’t been achieved. Obviously to some but not so to others. The managers have ended up a little frustrated with the lack of change and adoption of the process they were talking about.  

So it comes down to using a technique called repetitive redundant communication.  

Harvard Business School have spent time researching how effective different managers were at getting a message across and found that it was closely related to how much power they have in an organisation. If the boss says turn right, the team turned right, if a project manager says turn right, the team say “we’ll check with the boss and come back to you”.  

All change leaders, be they business analysts/project managers, team leaders, or peers, must assume nothing. They must proactively use redundant communication to convince team members that their project is under threat and that they needed to be part of the solution, and they need to keep repeating the message, in different ways, to the same people, until they get the message. Faster and more effectively than waiting for the boss to do it.  

Now put your shoes on the right feet please. We’re late.