In this day and age of communication marvels such as the cell phone and the internet, miscommunication still occurs at the workplace. The following is an often cited and humorous take on work miscommunication:
Memo from CEO to Manager:
Today at 11 o’clock there will be a total eclipse of the sun. This is when the sun disappears behind the moon for two minutes. As this is something that cannot be seen every day, time will be allowed for employees to view the eclipse in the parking lot. Staff should meet in the lot at ten to eleven, when I will deliver a short speech introducing the eclipse, and giving some background information. Safety goggles will be made available at a small cost.
Memo from Manager to Department Head:
Today at ten to eleven, all staff should meet in the car park. This will be followed by a total eclipse of the sun, which will appear for two minutes. For a moderate cost, this will be made safe with goggles. The CEO will deliver a short speech beforehand to give us all some information. This not something that can be seen everyday.
Memo from Dept. Head to Floor Manager:
The CEO will today deliver a short speech to make the sun disappear for two minutes in the form of an eclipse. This is something that cannot be seen every day, so staff will meet in the car park at ten or eleven. This will be safe, if you pay a moderate cost.
Memo from Floor Manager to Supervisor:
Ten or eleven staff are to go to the car park, where the CEO will eclipse the sun for two minutes. This doesn’t happen every day. It will be safe, and as usual it will cost you.
Memo from Supervisor to Staff:
Some staff will go to the car park today to see the CEO disappear. It is a pity, this doesn’t happen everyday.
You may find this funny but miscommunication is a phenomenon that has not only reduced work productivity but also affected the credibility of more than a few managers and left dozens of workers out in the cold line of unemployment. Several books have already been published on dealing with miscommunication issues and seminars are regularly conducted to teach both workers and management the value of open communication in the workplace.
But at the end of the day, there really is one thing to do to resolve miscommunication and perhaps avoid it altogether.
If you want to say something, just say it.
And say it immediately. Don’t wait a single moment more than is necessary. This goes for both management and rank and file.
If you think that your boss doesn’t like your work or worse, doesn’t like you at all, then secure a meeting to thresh out your differences and learn where you stand.
If you don’t agree with your manager’s leadership style, get your message across as diplomatically as you can. But if you feel that doing so would lead to a suspension or even dismissal from work, then your boss is vindictive and not worth your time and effort. Say your piece. But only after you’ve secured another job. Remember Jerry Maguire?But if you still decide to stay, keep quiet and be an ass kisser instead, then you deserve each other.
If you’re a manager or supervisor and you don’t like your worker’s output, then relay your critique as soon as possible. Cut through the chase and minimize the bullshit. If you have an urge to spread your complaints about a particular subordinate to the rest of the world, contain it.
As the manager, you should give your subordinate the courtesy of communicating your observations directly to him. Few can diminish a manager’s credibility more than letting a worker get the news from someone else. Or worse, receive word that he was being let go from out of the blue. Just like what happened to top ranked billiard player Alex Pagulayan who was ousted recently from the Guinness 9-Ball Pool Tour for unprofessional conduct.
In a letter explaining his side (printed in the August 8, 2007 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer), Pagulayan expressed his surprise at the decision made by the Billiard and Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP). The basis of the decision was during Pagulayan’s semifinal match of the Singapore Leg of the Guinness 9-Ball Pool Tour against Ibrahim Bin Amir of Malaysia.
The BSCP alleged that Pagulayan was constantly talking during the match and was distracting his opponent in order to win the game. Pagulayan was flabbergasted because he remembered that BSCP President Ernesto Fajardo was there at the time and even talked to him after the match.
Pagulayan said in the letter that Fajardo never called his attention to his alleged misconduct and that even his opponent, Amir, did not lodge a complaint against him. Besides, Pagulayan normally talked to himself during a match, especially during the tough games, to steady his nerves and that he was not the only top ranked billiard player with this habit.
But still, Pagulayan is one of the lucky ones. Because of his skill and talent, he won’t run short of other pool tours to compete in. For the rest of us who have to work regularly and don’t expect any windfall of thousands of dollars like Pagulayan, we contend with miscommunication everyday and as such, have to learn how to deal with it. So keep things simple.
If you have something to say, just say it.