Part 4 | Communication Filters
In this module we will teach you about communication and how to use filters to effectively and efficiently communicate. We have included all of them in the Team Manual below and would encourage you to use them. If you decide to change them for your organization, keep them simple.
Communication in Organizations
Think about how much time is spent communicating between employees. If it’s just you, then the only conversation is between yourself and your brain. Then when you add an assistant, you still have the conversation with yourself, plus the back and forth with your employee. Then if you have 100 employees, there’s too much time spent communicating, and it becomes wasted time.
Many times employees will ask you a lot of questions and the back and forth of answering will distract you from working on your business. Every interruption takes you off of your work and wastes time.
The solution to this is systematizing the way your organization communicates. At The Life Coach School we have done a very good job at this and will share all the secrets that have made our communication very efficient.
We recommend you use Slack as your communication tool because it keeps everything in one area, it’s easier to organize, and you can easily go back and see previous conversations. We encourage you to not use interoffice email.
We also recommend you have a project software. We use Basecamp. This is where we place our current projects that have timelines and dates. We communicate everything concerning projects in Basecamp.
We don’t do a lot of phone calls. We have meetings, but most of the communication is done between Slack and Basecamp.
Clarifying Questions Filter
If you delegate something to an employee, they are likely going to have a lot of questions. We ask employees to write down all their questions about an assignment and then attempt to answer them all on their own. For example, they may ask, “When do you need this project completed?” This would be an obvious question for you to answer, but you want them to make a guess at answering.
Once they’ve written all their questions and answers down, they send it in. This does two things.
- It lets you know what questions were unanswered when it was assigned, which is good feedback.
- It helps you see how they think about the assignment.
By using this filter you can bypass the errors and help your employees get clear on what you want and how to think about things. And sometimes all of the answers they give will be correct, and all you have to do is give a thumbs up. Require your employees to give you answers for every question they ask. It will change your life.
As a manager, you have to make a lot of decisions. The more your organization expands, the more decisions you have to make, and the more you will get decision fatigue. You will then start putting off decisions and slowing down your business. So what do you do?
You have your employees use a Decision Filter. This is how it works. They write down two options they are deciding between and then they make a decision on what they’re going to do and why. They then write when they are going to execute on the decision if they don’t hear back from you. This filter has been a game changer.
This filter allows you to either correct their thinking about the decision or give them a thumbs up for them to move forward. It gives employees decision authority and helps them to feel empowered. Instead of taking 25 minutes to make a decision, it takes 3 minutes to read a Decision Filter and comment on it or approve it.
If you hire awesome employees, they’re going to have lots of ideas. We don’t want to discourage these ideas because you never know when the best idea is going to be there. We are paying employees to think, we want their ideas. But sometimes there can be too many ideas and you are being bombarded with them.
This is why we ask our employees to present any idea through an Idea Filter. This is how it works. The employee writes their idea down and why they think it’s a good idea. We ask that they get really detailed and specific here so we can see their thinking. Then they share what it will require to implement. For example, is this something that involves the whole team, or just an update to a product? Lastly, they indicate when it will be completed if approved.
The last thing you want as a manager is to have someone coming and presenting problems for you to solve. They will say “I have this problem. What should we do?” You will want to kill them. Which is why we have a rule to use the Problem Filter. It requires you to solve the problem or suggest a solution to the problem before presenting it.
The employee first defines what the problem is and what caused it. They then offer their solutions for how to change the cause of the problem. A lot of times we just solve the surface level problem, instead of really understanding why the problem happened in the first place. Once they provide their thoughts on how to change the cause, they provide the solution they feel is best right now and when it will be solved.
In the beginning your employees will forget to do this thinking for themselves. They will feel like they don’t know what to do. And there is a risk of rejection that happens with these filters. It will be important for you to request filters when your employees present you with questions, ideas, or problems.
If you push back in the beginning, you will train your employees to be much more effective in the way they communicate and work with you.