I must have said this so many times (maybe 150 times) that some of my clients have quoted me back.
I am proud to announce that empirical research (quoted in the 2011 May issue of the Harvard Business Review) is now backing my statement:
”A team lead by Professor Tsedal Neeley (from Harvard) and Professor Paul Leonardi (from Northwestern University) shadowed 13 managers in six companies for more than 250 hours, recording every communication the managers sent and received. The research discovered that one of every seven communication by the mangers was completely redundant with a previous communication using a different technology. They also saw that the managers who were deliberately redundant moved their projects forward faster and more smoothly.”
When the researchers asked the managers if they were surprised about their redundant communication the reaction was this: “Seriously, you think this is interesting? This is how it works. Of course I follow up with yet another message.”
Two key take-aways from this research for you:
- If you want something done, plan deliberately to communicate the same message several times using different techniques such as instant communication (face to face meetings, calls, Instant messaging) or delayed communication (emails, voice mails).
- The most powerful way to move the needle on a project or a task is to start with an instant communication (preferable a face-to-face meeting, second best a call) and then follow up with a delayed message (such as an email). The instant communication ensures motivation and buy-in. But the follow up via email is to remind people of their commitments so that it does not fall off the radar screen.
- Do not use email first (delayed message) and then follow up with a face to face (instant).