MSP company communication can be internally difficult sometimes due to the highly specialized nature of varying departments. Personality issues periodically rear their ugly heads as well. In order to get past many unnecessary conflicts, you want to communicate clearly and effectively to your employees. The employee/employer relationship is professional, but it is simultaneously human, so you must take this aspect of reality into account. Following are several tips to help you properly communicate as you intend to when you interact with your employees. These tips include:
- Avoiding assumption
- Ensuring clarity and specificity are communicated
- Providing a time frame
- Designing illustrative examples
- If possible, giving alternatives
- Ensuring proper boundaries are established
Though professionals throughout your MSP company may be technologically inclined, you can’t always assume they understand what you’ve said. Everybody hears what they want to hear; that’s an aspect of human nature. A great example of this, albeit in different circumstances, comes from the fifth episode of the third season of the TV show Arrested Development, “Mr. F”. At one point in this episode, a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent approaches David Cross’s character, Tobias Funke. The goal is for Tobias to function as a mole for the government. But Tobias’ character is interested in becoming an actor, and so in a “merry mix-up”, confuses the agent saying, “central intelligence agency” for “central casting agency”. Don’t assume your employees know what you mean when you say something. You need to be more direct.
Ensure Clarity and Specificity are Communicated
Tell the workers in your MSP what you want them to do, then clarify it specifically. Don’t just hand someone a hard drive and tell them to reformat it. Tell them what you want the reformatted hard drive named, what to do with it once they’ve reformatted it, and suggest how this may best be accomplished.
Provide a Time Frame
If you don’t let tech workers know when something must be completed, you deprive them of the ability to prioritize. Appraise workers of when you’d like work done.
Design Illustrative Examples
In the first point of this list, an example from Arrested Development was explored. One person heard one thing, and another person said something totally different. The reason this happened was a psychological one and does a very good job of demonstrating the concept of that point. What has just been described here is an example of an illustrative example. And this paragraph may just be an example of the sci-fi film Inception!
All kidding aside, it turns out parable, analogy, and other example-derived forms of communication are often successful at making a concept that might otherwise be obscure, clear. But this isn’t always the case.
As referenced earlier, people sometimes hear what they want to hear, rather than what you tell them. Though analogy is one method of communication worth employing, it needs to be supported by additional strategies.
When possible, provide alternative assignments/solutions/methods of operating. This helps your employees get their head around where you’re prioritizing things and gives them greater choice. Choice is generally a positive psychological provision.
Ensure you structure your communication around those to whom you’re communicating for greatest effect. Sometimes this means alternatives. Sometimes there are no alternatives to provide. But for the most part, giving your MSP employees some level of choice is a good strategy.
Time is a boundary. Alternatives are, in a sense, boundaries. You can go forward, or backward; your choice, but that’s all you’ve got right now. Children are always testing their boundaries, and as an employer, you should expect employees to do the same. So, ensure good boundaries exist.
Have your employees repeat back what you’ve just told them to ensure they understood it, mentally digested it, and will perform the task as you specified.
An MSP company that puts into action these seven steps of communication is likely to reduce “merry mix-ups” and otherwise avoidable mishaps. Clear boundaries, alternative solutions, examples, lack of assumption, time frames, and clear specificity will go a long way toward effectively optimizing your MSP’s operational communication.