Apr 15

Simplifying Work Communications

Joel T. Fagsao

Last week, I talked about firing under performing service companies.  Big businesses do have a commitment to make- total customer satisfaction.  Just because you are currently at the top of the heap is no excuse for a mediocre service.  Just now, Toyota, the world’s most admired automaker is in hot waters.  Toyota’s honcho Akio Toyoda faced the U.S. Congress for an inquiry into the safety of Toyota’s cars.  Already, about 8 million Toyota cars including the popular Prius sold worldwide has been recalled by the Japanese company.  Facing the US Congress, Toyoda was an epitome of grace under pressure.  He was also an example of humility while facing the heat of anxious American consumers.  He repeatedly apologized and admitted the shortcoming of the company that is number one in Asia in terms of assets in 2006.  Also, Toyota leads the world’s auto makers in terms of worldwide sales.  This is indeed a tough act to follow.  If only executives in government and non government organizations can face up to the people they serve and admit their organization’s shortcomings, the world will be a better place to live in.

Now, amidst all the gadgets that we use in the workplace, why is it that some organizations still have a problem in getting messages across?  We have our mobile phones, the Internet and even the reliable fax machine.  Yet, your head office or regional headquarters claim they did receive your email.  Text messages either arrived late or messages were not received because their mobile phone is in silent mode or low bat (tery).  Even fax messages can be claimed not to have been received at all.  Well, here are a few simple tips that could lessen the anxieties of miscommunications in the work place.

Let’s start with the mobile phone.  An organization must come up with a policy on whether text messages will be accepted as official forms of communications.  If text messages are allowed, then it would make employees happy if there is a company issued mobile phone.  Company issued mobile phones will be provided to key office staff.  So if a message was sent to a personal mobile phone, you can’t blame the employee if he or she claims that a message has not been received.  Management must never call or send messages to an employee’s mobile phone on matters related to work especially after office hours.  Calling or sending a message to a personal mobile phone is excusable if the message is a matter of life and death.

In using an e-mail, the organization must have a written policy on the official e-mail addresses to be used for communications.  You don’t send a work related e-mail to an employee’s personal e-mail unless there is a prior agreement.  By sending e-mails to assigned e-mail addresses, there is an assurance that all official communications sent are received.  Matters become complicated when the boss wants you to send official communications to his or her personal e-mail.  To be safe, make sure to send your e-mail to the official e-mail address and cc your boss’s e-mail.  It would also be wise to include your official e-mail address and your personal e-mail address (if you want) in the SEND TO box.  This will ensure that you have an exact copy of what you sent earlier.  Make sure that before you hit the send button, check for spelling and typographical errors and also your attachments.  Collaborate on a document file instead of sending it back and forth via e-mail.  Try to explore Office Live (www.officelive.com) Google Docs or drop.io (http://drop.io/).  In drop.io, and the others mentioned earlier, you can upload files; work on it together in real time.  Collaborating on a particular file or sharing files are the main features of Office Live, Google Docs and drop.io.

If you still have your reliable fax machine, make sure to include a cover page.  A cover page is where you can indicate where the recipient at the end of the line will route your fax message, the number of pages and the source of the fax. Print a copy of the confirmation (a feature in most fax machines) and attach it to the hard copy of the fax message sent.   Before we close, make it a point to call or send a text message to the recipient informing that a fax message or e-mail was sent.  The next time your boss sends a message to your personal mobile phone on a Sunday, while having dinner or walking your dog, ignore it or if it is a call, bring it to your pet’s ear and observe what happens!