Four Communication Lessons Learned

August 8, 2017

 

While this will be the first lesson learned I share here on my new blog, I have learned so much in my 10 years as product manager.

 

This post will be regarding the importance of communication.

 

Communication #1 - Repeat the message

 

I have a clear vision of what our future product mix should be. But the trouble is, it is hard to get people on the same page by simply sharing that vision once, twice, or even three times. My colleagues are busy and focused on their own tasks and responsibilities. It is fool hardy to think that they will remember what has been discussed and agreed upon in the past. As such, it is important that I remind myself to remind others of the vision.

 

Communication #2 - Keep the message simple

 

This ties in closely with the item above. The simpler the message, the easier it will be remembered and the less you will need to repeat it. That is easier said than done because often the many considerations behind the strategy are fairly complex which requires a fair amount of explanation. For this reason, I now focus on putting the conclusions up front and have the supporting documentation either further down in a report in an appendix.

 

Communication #3 - Present the message 

 

Some colleagues simply aren't readers. Identify those and have one-on-one discussions with them to ensure they comprehend any reports that have been done. I've also found it helpful to now do presentations of the conclusions then email the supporting documentation afterwards if they want to get into the details.

 

Communication #4 - Talk about the what and why before the how

 

I've witnessed many disagreements over the years because stakeholders are coming at a problem from a different perspective. To help mitigate such disagreements, I find it helpful to start a group discussion by first giving context as to what the problem is and why before the group starts brainstorming solutions on how it should be resolved. Sounds basic, but just because the meeting is about fixing 'X', what 'X' is can mean different things to different people so to start right in on possible solutions will most likely cause unneeded tension.

 

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© Bob Gorham Consulting 2019