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Efficiency Experiment - Week 4. Communication

Updated: Apr 14, 2021

It’s week 4 of creating the UK's most efficient business owner and this week James is learning all about how communication is critical for efficiency. Too often people rely on the myriad of communication platforms that exist and as a result, they don’t get the message across correctly and then the real problems start…

Email is Great, But...

Email can be a great communication tool, but it is not always the best vehicle for explaining something, particularly anything complex. Often too much is left to the reader's interpretation, which is never good and leads to mistakes and arguments, neither of which are designed to make you an efficient boss.

Email is also not as quick as you might believe. The time it takes someone to write an email, have it read, responded to and then having to clarify a few points, a quick call would be more efficient and be less open to incorrect interpretation.

If you are relying on email for communication (it certainly has its place), then make sure your email has a good structure, you are very clear in any instruction and don’t leave any room for interpretation. If you are struggling to follow these basic rules, then that’s probably a sign that you shouldn’t be using email!

Mistakes Can Be Avoided

Studies vary, but most agree that poor communication accounts for over half of all mistakes that happen in a business. That figure is scary but not hugely surprising. But when put this into financial terms it’s much scarier. A study by David Grossman shows that small companies of 100 employees lose an average of $420,000 per year to poor communication and the problems that causes, so if you apply that down to your business, it is very easy to realise how important communication is for efficiency and improving profits.

Key mistakes that arise from poor communication

  • Prioritisation - People waste time working on the wrong projects

  • Missing Work - The project is missing elements that were not communicated and therefore the project needs doing again

  • Errors - People add the wrong thing and have to start all over again

  • Poor Morale - Ultimately, poor communication can get people down and low morale is always bad for productivity

Complex Situations Need Joined-Up Communication

Whilst a lot of routine and basic tasks can be managed via email, Slack, automation tools or project management systems, there are some jobs that are more efficiently managed face to face. Examples would be

  • Problem-solving

  • Idea generation

  • Content brainstorming

By being face to face, the back and forth can be much faster, meaning you get to the solution far quicker, great for efficiency.

Also, when dealing with more complex subjects, people are likely to have differing views and communicating in the same space or at least via VC, you are able to pick up visual cues that someone is not happy or that they are struggling to get across their point. These things need to come out and with poor communication and using none visual communication channels, it takes much longer and leads to wasted time and energy - killers in the efficiency world.

For any situation, think about what is the most efficient way to be communicating. The fastest solution is not always the most efficient if it’s going to lead to mistakes and people repeating what they are saying or having to start things over and over again.

Download the latest episode of the ruthlessly efficient podcast and hear how James is getting on with his efficiency challenges

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