Sometimes, asking for input to solve a problem reveals yet another problem. I asked Rotary members and leaders for their best Membership "Power Moves" and "Death Moves." In response, a number of people told me that "excessive email requests for information consistute a Death Move."
"To request the RI Board to consider finding more efficient and less expensive ways to communicate with Rotary clubs."
If you were appointed to a special advisory committee to the RI Board, what would you suggest? How can Rotary communicate better - at international, zone, district and club level? Here are a few ideas, plus a chance to add your own.
To get the conversation started, here are a few of my ideas:
- Let people know what is most important. Let's face it, there is simply no way to stop communicating. One strength of Rotary is its breadth of impact. Our success means that we have a lot to tell! But of all the things we could tell about (or need to communicate), how do we help the receiver know what matters most?
- Clarify what requires action and by when. Some regular communication is necessary, whether it be to solicit input, to report information to RI or to help plan how the District can better serve its clubs. Make it clear what action is expected and when.
- Define in advance how Districts and Clubs communicate. What is the ideal information flow to club presidents: DG newsletter? Through the AGs? Direct to club committee chairs? Show respect for people's time by showing the best way to steer information - in both directions. This also allows you to put ideas in the channels where people expect it.
- Define the rhythm of communication. There are certain reports due to RI, to the district, etc. throughout the year. Why not publish a schedule in advance? This way, the club Secretary and President know what they are responsible for. To the recipient: do you want an easy way to eliminate all of those reminder messages? Submit your reports on time.
- Use Know-Feel-Do: If you are going to do a survey, give people advance notice, tell them why it is important and tell them how they will hear about the results. Some reports are necessary in order to maintain member, donor and volunteer confidence in our brand. Make sure people know why they need to read or respond.
- Sender, heal thyself: I often get passionate about a topic and add more words than are necessary. Simplify your message and it will be heard.
- Recipient, get over it! You are part of Rotary, an organization that is mostly a "clan" culture. Information and knowledge sharing is part of our DNA. Figure out how to efficiently manage your inbox. Give feedback and suggestions to senders, along with requests for clarification. Then, put your energy into the stuff that really matters!
- Use the right media for the message. Pick up the phone when the message warrants. These days, tools like Internet voice conferencing, instant messaging, web collaboration tools and extranets are cheap, simple ways to have conversations, educate members and share files. If we get better at creating podcasts, we make it easier to expand our reach and effectiveness by allowing others to get the knowledge from a recorded conversation, even if they could not participate live.
Bottom line, manageable, effective communication is a two-way street. Send fewer, clearer, more engaging messages. Use new tools that make it easier and more effective to connect. In turn, manage your inbox: sort for what is important and don't save any message you will not refer to later.
What are your suggestions? How do we simplify communication in Rotary?