Communication is the most important element to success in both personal and work environments – yet it tends to take a back seat, why is this? In relationships often when they break down it is because we don’t talk to each other, only when we hitting breaking point do we sit down and start to share our thoughts. Having managed multiple concurrent projects across a number of globally based manufacturing sites I learnt early on that open communication had to be enforced to ensure successful delivery and effective contingency planning. Interpretation can be a big player here – in my situation there were the language and cultural barriers, asking for a status update from Germany often yielded responses of “we have not set up the tooling up until now”. This would indicate that they have just set up the tooling – actually this means that they haven’t set it up at this point, a language translation which could be catastrophic to a project if you were to action the next stage of the project when the site was not ready. However I have come across similar issues within the UK and with the USA, to overcome these I learnt fast what the technical teams were actually trying to communicate and made sure every teleconference and meeting was followed up with clear email communication which required a sign off from each individual and also designed a software package which required sign off at each stage from heads of the manufacturing sites before the next stage could be released.
How many times have you called and emailed someone for an update on something only for no reply to be made? How many times have you “parked” an email as you do not have any news? Often the reason for not replying is that you want to be able to give good news and demonstrate your effectiveness but in fact you are doing the opposite to this. One thing which has become ingrained in my working process is to make sure I respond to all calls and emails, even if I have no news yet. By simply responding and stating that you haven’t forgotten and that you are chasing it up – you can ensure you are gaining trust and alleviating any frustrations at the other end. It’s not very time consuming and will help build a strong relationship with others as you are not deemed as ignoring them.