The Importance of In-Person Communication

A friend of mine a few years back made a wonderful recommendation to me that I have instituted and plan on keeping in place for many years to come. With the amount that I travel annually (125,000 plus miles) and the time I spend away from my kids, I was convinced to do one trip a year with each of my kids to wherever they want. Last year was our first annual trip;

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As the great Ratt song goes…..”Lack of Communication….Lack of….Communication”

People avoid confrontation like the plague. Some would rather ignore and hope it goes away but this might be the absolutely worse approach possible. Case in point – I have been working on finding a coach to take over my son’s second grade basketball team. We met this nice young man through a camp Caleb attended this summer that is very involved in professional basketball and coaches kids’ select teams. We had everything set for him to meet the team this week and everyone was excited. He actually just got married and went on his honeymoon….and I have not heard from him again! I emailed him twice, texted him and called him…to no avail. From our initial impressions, he seemed like a great guy that was able to connect with kids. I can only surmise that he changed his mind and did not want to commit to this with an already arduous full-time job. HOWEVER, there is never an excuse for a lack of communication.

 

 

People lose all credibility when there is a lack of transparency. Humans are inherently forgiving…if the issue is communicated in a timely manner. It is best not to avoid confrontation but accept, discuss and move forward. However, avoidance is not an option. People are no longer upset at the decision you have made, they are upset at the lack of communication and lack of trust you have put in the relationship. Finally, it really comes down to lack of closure and really understanding what happened and what caused this decision.

 

 

I have no idea what happened in this current situation; I can only surmise from the little I know. I can say though that the organization he works for is very well-known and he represents this organization (like we all do) at all times. He has set a bad precedent and I will make sure never to attend anything by this organization and I will make sure, if asked, to tell friends why as well.

Which is More Important – Quality or Delivery of the Message?

I have had this argument on many occasions as to which is more important when developing employees – the material or the trainer? Or, in other words, the message or the actual delivery of the message?

 

 

One side of this dilemma is focused on the training material. Many of the large professional development organizations, whose model is utilizing volunteer instructors, subscribe to this belief. They argue that any competent professional (in addition to a vetting process) can teach as the material is regimented and well organized. There is an attendee guide, an instructor manual, slide deck and specific notes as to how to teach the course. This is definitely tried and true method that has worked well for many years.

 

 

The converse of this argument is focusing on the actual delivery of the message. This is really about utilizing a true professional trainer and speaker. The actual message importance will never be lost but I would argue that regardless of the quality of the material, a bad instructor will lose an audience within the initial hour of a course if they cannot engage and make the subject matter interesting. In many circles, the speaker is the lynchpin – if he/she stands behind a podium, in a monotone voice and without commanding presence, regardless of the content, you will lose any audience.

 

 

Ultimately, it s a great combination of message and delivery of the message that is important in any professional development session. If I were to weight it between the two, I would say we are still leaning heavily to delivery – at approximately a 70/30 ratio. What do you think?

The Dangers of Political Correctness

Last Saturday, I had a very interesting experience. I was coaching my daughter’s kindergarten soccer team and I had the great pleasure of a senior referee sitting on the sidelines in addition to the league commissioner in the stands and even taking pictures of my every move. Obviously, I was taken aback at the attention I was getting. All of this stemmed from an incident the previous weekend. It turns out the parents on the other team were very unhappy with my coaching style. I believe that kids have to hear your voice so I am a bit loud in a constructive fashion. I try to encourage and help and if there is something negative to say, I try to follow up with something positive. Well, the other team did not appreciate this style. Their parents were actually shouting at me from the sidelines in addition to one gentlemen seeming to puff out his chest to confront me; for what reason, I have no idea. Our parents seem to appreciate my coaching style and are very supportive and told the commissioner so at the game. So, who is right? Who is wrong? Or have we become so politically correct and scared to offend anyone that we cannot raise our voice at all or state our opinion publicly?

 

 

Organizations are always concerned about political correctness and rightfully so. On the other hand, I have noticed a significant shift to “over-political correctness”. This is when growth is significantly limited because employees are scared to state their opinion or put themselves out on a limb. I believe we should be concerned about both sides of this coin and we should learn to balance each. In many regards, we have gone from free speech to free speech…..BUT it offends anyone, you are immediately guilty and must pay the consequences. No one is condoning bad behavior but due process should prevail.

 

 

After the game Saturday, I spoke to our league commissioner and senior official and both re-affirmed my current beliefs – I am well within the bounds of the rules and both seemed to appreciate my approach. I am continuing to strengthen my emotional intelligence to motivate the kids to play hard and have fun so it has been a great growth experience. But, not sure what I went through was really necessary…

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