Sunday, May 1

Does Nagging Work? You betcha


Managers who inundate their teams with the same messages, over and over, via multiple media, need not feel bad about their persistence. In fact, this redundant communication works to get projects completed quickly,according to new research by Harvard Business School professor Tsedal B. Neeley and Northwestern University's Paul M. Leonardi and Elizabeth M. Gerber. Key concepts include:

  • Managers who are deliberately redundant as communicators move their projects forward more quickly and smoothly than those who are not.
  • Project managers lacking direct authority will work harder at communication, trying to enlist support from team members. They time first and second messages close together, typically starting with a phone call or face-to-face meeting followed up by an e-mail.
  • Project managers with power delay communication, typically sending an e-mail, assuming that is enough to pressure employees to do the job—only to find themselves later scrambling to do damage control.
  • Clarity in messaging matters less than redundancy. It's not the message; it's the frequency of the message that counts in getting the job done.
  • Managers with and without power met deadlines and budget goals with the same frequency, regardless of their communication strategy. But managers without power got employees to move more quickly, and with less mop up needed later.

I agree wholeheartedly. In fact, ever since I have become a programme manager (about 11-12 years now), communications has been a crucial aspect. So far so that in certain large programmes, I have ended up with a team of 5 people dedicated to communications. In my current particular programme, I have a dedicated communications manager. It is important to talk and talk and talk. Totally keep on banging on and on about it. You have to be a total arse about it actually. Constantly communicate. Talk and bore the pants off them. Most projects are people oriented projects. Very few are purely technical. You will have somebody always. Getting people to change requires nagging the hell out of them. Yes, you will get a reputation of being an anally retentive bugger. Well, yes, tough. Your job is to complete the change. To make things happen. To deliver the deliverables. You are not there to win love.

So how do you know if you are at the anally retentive level? Can you sing the barney song or Old MacDonald’s in public? on the pavement? Twice over? If you can, then you have reached that level. And believe you me, that is literally the level one needs to be at when you are running change programmes. Actually, when I was in business as usual roles (looking after global infrastructure or the cash equities trading floor), the same concept applies. Bang on about it. Nag Nag Nag.

I should know, I have a whole tribe of female relatives who nag me. What I am, is due to the nagging from all of them : )

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool, I was wondering if I was nagging my students too much.