You communicate too much.
Rarely are those exact words are spoken. However, many of us go about our professional lives worried we are burdening others with our communication.
Effective communication is one of the most important steps a school district can take to promote a community of trust. When school leaders prioritize communication, they have an opportunity to dramatically impact the culture of a school district.
School leaders who openly share information develop a sense of empowerment within their staff. When information funnels up and down the organization in a free-flowing and transparent manner, all employees will feel like a part of the team.
Often I see schools who like to share information only with teaching staff. For some reason, these school leaders believe that information does not need to be shared with para educators, secretaries, food service, and custodial staff. The reason for this decision is typically for three reasons: 1) the information doesn't pertain to them, 2) we don't want to overload their inbox, and 3) they don't read their email anyways.
I would argue in most cases all staff should be included in large-group communication. Let's get in a habit of over-communicating with all staff members as opposed to leaving them in the dark. If staff don't need the information then that's fine, but I'd rather err on the side of inclusion than division.
When using the word transparency, some people get uneasy. They believe that sensitive information will be shared and flaws will be exposed. Ironically, strong organizations are comfortable bringing thorny issues to the surface. They seek the truth and are willing to share current reality with employees.
Furthermore, we must also remember one invention that has turned communication on its head: Social Media. As a result of social media, we now live in an hyper-transparent world. Virtually anything we want to know - good, bad, or ugly - is available online. We are now have breaking information and news at our fingertips.
However, many schools still operate as if information is top secret.
You've all heard this by now: When something goes wrong in your school district, someone is going to tell your story. How that information is shared (or not shared) is up to you. Savvy school districts will share delicate information quickly, accurately, and transparently, while schools with a culture of under-communication open themselves up to rumors, hearsay, and false information.
Finally, here are two more tips for strong communication. First, when you find yourself debating whether or not news should be shared, use the following rule of thumb: When in doubt, communicate. When the thought of communicating crosses your mind, don't waste any more time. Just do it.
Second, embrace the following: When someone doesn't get your message, it's not on them, it's on you. Often we make excuses about why people don't get our intended message, claiming it's the other person's fault. I'll admit, I'm guilty of these excuses as well. However, we must change our mindset. Instead of blaming our audience, perhaps we need to reflect and determine a better way to communicate what is being shared.
In his book Culturize, Jimmy Casas suggests the following: "I don’t think we can ever go wrong with over-communicating if we are doing it effectively. We must recognize that the timeliness and quality of our communication can affect our connection to each individual member of our community as well as the culture of the entire organization."
If someone accuses you of over-communicating, take it as a compliment - not an insult.
Looking for another great book discussing the importance of utilizing effective communication? Consider reading The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni.