The beauty of communication is that it comes in many different forms. We all transfer ideas, thoughts, plans, updates uniquely. The art of sharing information to a team is always a work in progress. Below is a real-life example that happened a while back where a small detail made a huge difference.
Each month I plan an evening where I take my leaders out to dinner. To change things up, I let my managers plan when and where our dinner outing would be. This is where the fun begins.
General Manager Perspective:
I received an Outlook invite for El Ranchero at 6PM. Cool. I was looking forward to it — because I knew the food was great — we had gone there on my 2nd day on the job. Just like any other day 5:15PM came too soon. With me being Ms. Punctual, I packed up my laptop, grabbed my keys and walked back to the office space; I saw my leaders still working/socializing; I turned off and on the lights and said, “let’s go!” They laughed and said they were right behind me.
• 5:20 PM: Still somewhat new to the area, I searched for El Ranchero in Google Maps; got the (only) address — and off I went!
• 5:50 PM: Arrived at El Ranchero
• 6:20 PM: Received a text from my managers asking how did they beat me to the restaurant?
• 6:22 PM: Figured out there are two El Rancheros — they were at the new one by their hotel
• 6:25 PM: Told them not to wait, go ahead and order and order for me too — I told them to order shrimp tacos (when I meant to say fajitas)
• 6:30 PM: Sat in the parking lot:
- o Googling, Yelping and going to the El Ranchero restaurant website searching for the address — no luck.
- o Tried to text my team for more information — no luck.
- o Headed towards where their hotel was.
All ended with a happy ending. Dinner was with good company and delicious food. I enjoyed my shrimp tacos.
Missing Puzzle Pieces:
In a meeting earlier that day, the managers had quickly touched base and they thought that it would make things easier all around if we met close to the hotel. Somehow that message did not make it back to me.
Come to find out that this additional location was so new that there had been no mention (zilch!) on the Internet. How rare is that in the digital age?
The Next Day:
I always find the humor when situations like this transpire. In preparation for my daily leadership scrum meeting, I printed out three items:
1. A map of the two locations with numbers.
2. Screen shot of El Ranchero’s Location Page with a single address.
3. Google results for El Ranchero Hagerstown.
I gave the managers a minute to figure out how much excess time was used in the prior night’s excursion. With the time pressure and being asked on the spot — only one out of five was correct. What is your answer? (See answer below)
729 Clayton — Office 1716 Dual Hwy is approximate location of 2nd El Ranchero Restaurant
1. How many decisions do you make on the spot? When you have the answers in front of you and you do not take the right amount of time to review before saying — yes to X, will be done by Y, the number is Z. It’s OK to ask for time to look over and get back with an answer — instead of making a snap judgment.
2. Living proof that there are many ways to get to the same end result based on our past experience and expertise and we all approach situations differently — but it doesn’t mean we won’t get to the same finish line.
3. Velocity of working as a team — if we are all working in tandem, we can achieve our goals faster, better, as a cohesive unit.
Admittedly, I altered the routes so that they would run in parallel for the first half and then spit off to help visually display the lessons I wanted to drive home.
Answer time. What did you calculate? 5? 10? 15? 25? The correct answer is 15.
• Clayton to Dual Hwy is 35
• Clayton to El Ranchero is 40
• Clayton to El Ranchero to Dual Hwy is 50
Location Page Lessons:
1. Shared information may not be up to date — be sure to validate that you have the latest updates before making any important decisions on the information, based on what you have in front of you.
2. Do not depend on third parties to convey all details that you need to know. Details can be easily lost in translation. Think of the telephone game. When there is uncertainty, repeat important details.
Google Results Lessons:
1. Focus on quality not quantity of information. You can provide a lot of information, but focus on the details that are important. If important details are absent — you may direct them to the wrong conclusion.
1. Best laid plans can go sideways.
2. We rely too much on technology to supplement communication.
3. When in doubt, over communicate.
I am happy to share that the next dinner location included the address in the restaurant’s name. That way there was no miscommunication. My team nailed it!