Company Internal Communications
(More detail is provided in Work The System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less)
Forms of Communication
- Voice Mail (VM)
- Outlook and Outlook Exchange Mail
- Instant Messenger (IM)
- One-on-one via telephone
- One-on-one in person
- Hard copy memo
- Procedures, documentation, intranet, etc.
What method of communication should I use? Here are guidelines:
- Routine, not time sensitive: VM, email, IM
- Time sensitive: VM with urgent page, IM, one-on-one
- “Getting all my thoughts in order” detailed explanations: VM, email
- Personal and sensitive issues: one-on-one in person, or one-on-one by phone
- Documentation is necessary: email or hard-copy
- Information is complex/detailed: email or hard-copy
- Procedures: Hard copy in procedure manual and on intranet
Point of Sale
Point of Sale (POS) protocol for messaging means, most of all, that when a question is asked of you, you answer immediately. If at all possible, DO NOT save the message for future response! If you must do this, respond to the message sender immediately to tell him or her that you will get back with a detailed answer at a future time (be sure to also give an approximate time and/or day they can expect your response)
Giving a Message Via Any Medium
Leave complete, clear and concise messages. Be brief. Rambling messages that contain more information than is necessary, or that keep repeating the same information, are a waste of two people’s time. The VM medium is particularly susceptible to rambling, inefficient messages. When sending a message, remember that the frustration level of the recipient will rise proportionally to the degree of wastefulness within your message. Think: “A good message is a short message.” But, at the same time give all the necessary information. Giving a detailed, concise message is a work of art as well as a science. It takes practice and discipline. 90% of routine voice mail messages can be ten seconds or shorter in duration.
Follow these steps:
- Run the script of the message through your head before you send it. Don’t ponder the subject while recording the message. Know what is going to be said before you say it!
- State the information once. Never repeat anything.
- It’s OK to say “this is important, listen carefully” once in a while.
- Give a message in 30 seconds or less. 10 seconds is best.
- Eliminate 100% of “ummms” and “ahhhs”
- Try to go through your own mailbox to leave a message for other staff members (this is for the convenience of the receiving party). If you are calling a staff member at home or on their cellular phone and go into his or her mailbox, it’s OK to stay on the line and leave the message (for your own convenience!)
- Speak clearly. Spell names and give phone numbers once.
- If you are asking a staff member to return a call to someone outside the business, Give information in this order: name, company, number, message.
- If the message is truly urgent, mark it urgent. The question to ask when deciding on whether the message should be marked urgent is this: Is the information time sensitive? Don’t abuse the urgent option: it can become annoying.
- If you are sending someone a message simply to give them information and it’s critical information, tell them in the message that you want a confirmation that they have received it.
Answering and Processing Voicemail Messages
- ANSWER ALL MESSAGES IMMEDIATELY. If you do not have the information requested by the person asking the question, say so. Then, tell them when they can expect to hear back from you. Make a note in your day planner to remind yourself to get the answer and to follow through ASAP.
- Do not store messages in your mailbox! Delete messages as soon as you have responded to them. Keep your mailbox empty. If a message must be kept, be sure to get the info into your day planner or PDA at the earliest possible time. This is in keeping with the POS strategy.
- When answering a message always begin with “In reference to…”
- “Give” messages when necessary. Always preface the message with a comment. But! More often, you can paraphrase the original message and deliver it yourself. It’s faster that way. Consider the time factor for the person receiving the message listen to your messages several times a day. Telephone secretaries must listen to their mailbox a minimum of two times on every shift. Administrative staff should be checking at least four times during working hours.
- Update it daily, first thing in the morning.
- Do not work from past days. Keep all tasks current. Consider listening to the Franklin Covey tapes again. Also, consider putting P&S (for “planning and solitude”) on the first line daily. Mark it a “must do today” priority. In general, Use the PDA as outlined by the people who designed it. Be disciplined.
- Do “first things first” by entering “must do today” items as category 1 items (with the Palm Pilot, we have a total of five categories available ranging from absolutely-must-do to I-will-get-to-it-if-I-can”). The “must do” or “Category 1” items are tasks that must be accomplished today in order to avoid a customer or associate being unhappy or to fulfill a promise. Do not prioritize tasks as “must do” if you simply feel you want to finish those tasks today. This is a common error in prioritizing. If you do this, after a while every task becomes a “must do” thus defeating the whole idea of prioritizing. Take your PDA everywhere, including home at night.
- Don’t leave details to memory: Log the task that just occurred to you NOW.
Carry it everywhere to capture those quick thoughts that normally last a few seconds. Use it while driving, conversing or sitting around at home. Many times when on the run, it’s a chore, or there simply is not enough time, to take out the PDA and enter information. “Download” the contents of your digital recorder to your PDA at least once per day. The digital recorder, the PDA and your cell phone are the three tools that are immeasurably important to your overall organization.
- Return calls ASAP! Make it a #1 priority
- Answer “Centratel, this is… Immediately jot down the name and company name of the caller.
- Handle the call details per POS protocol.
- Keep all conversations minimal and to-the-point.
- All incoming calls received prior to 4:30pm will be returned the same day.
- Use it when voice mail is insufficient because:
- there is too much detail,
- there is too much complexity,
- there must be a tangible (paper) trail.
- Be cautious of wasted time. Some information transfers can be accomplished faster via voice mail or one-on-one by telephone.
- If an acknowledgment of receipt is necessary, put RSVP at the top of your e-mail.
- Create appropriate folders to store important e-mail messages.