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Interpersonal Skills. The old and new way of communicating with a group

Category: Training

The old way of communicating with a group

For years, The Industrial Society advocated the use of Briefing Groups — gatherings of people about once a month with normal work stopped for half an hour or so, during which the supervisor or manager gave out information which had been collected during the previous four weeks. It was regarded as essential that everyone received exactly the same messages at exactly the same time otherwise confusion would reign.

The problems with the above mentioned system are:

Often the person responsible for collecting the information had little real contact with the operational levels and did not know what operational staff were really interested in.

If anything was of real interest the grapevine got there first.

The information was rarely written in a language which was effective at the operational level.

The deliverers did not ‘own’ the messages. They were usually passing on someone else’s words.

The new way of communicating with a group

We learned differently when we discovered that throughout a company people meet together in small groups for a few minutes every day.

We found that:

The meeting is led by the immediate supervisor or manager and is primarily for information sharing not decision making.

The supervisor generates or adapts all the information and presents it in a way which is appropriate for the group.

90 per cent of the discussion is about matters which directly affect the group. Only rarely are there great messages from on high.

It doesn’t matter if people in different groups get slightly different versions of a story. Any significant difference can be quickly corrected. If there are no business matters to discuss the group can talk about anything it likes. The important thing is that the group is talking together.

The meetings are genuine two way communication sessions and often specific subjects are led by someone other than the supervisor.

Apart from meetings, there is also a lot of management by walking around, management is visible in the workplace where they communicate with people, face-to-face.

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