Critical Communications Can Create Confusion

Critical Communications Can Create Confusion

Critical Communications Can Create Confusion <--#AlliterationTuesday

I hope you get a chance to read the article regarding what happened during Hawaii's False Alert. You can read about it here.  It isn't everyday you can get a chance to see a pseudo-after action report after an incident. The one glaring mistake is not the actions of the employee, or the software that is used (though they are contributors). It all boils down to the one thing that usually gets all of us into trouble:

Communication

First, you may not be in charge of notifying the millions of lives of your state, but as a CEO or a business owner, the things that you say or communicate can have FAR REACHING consequences if they are not done right. People have a tendency to lock onto words that have been drilled into them during training, and some words or phrases are of CRITICAL IMPORTANCE. This happened here. The words "Exercise, Exercise, Exercise" were included but so was the phrase "This is NOT a Drill". In the hierarchy of critical communication, "This is NOT a Drill" wins hands down. I have ran exercises where an actual emergency comes in. That situation CAN and DOES happen and thus the employee hearing the words "This is NOT a Drill" and acting accordingly is completely understandable. So ensure that if you are sending a message to your employees, make sure that the message is clear, easy to know, and understandable. Do not muddle the conversation with opposing thoughts such as, "This quarter has been the best we've had, so to increase profits, we're going to let some of you go!" On the hierarchy of communication, being laid off will trump the real message. 

Second, after every shift on the public safety world, there is what is usually called "a handoff"(medical speak it's called signout). This is where you tell the oncoming team any pertinent information that the oncoming shift would need to know. 

The critical component that was missed during the supervisor hand-off was to WHO the exercise was directed to. Identifying your audience is a critical aspect of communication. Who are we directing this information to? Assumptions can and do get people killed and cause injury ( see the crash of Eastern Flight 401 as an example). 

If you are about to roll out a new initiative, policy, or order for your team, ensure that you know exactly WHO you are sending it out to and make sure that the people overseeing it understand what their role is. I have personal experience of procedures and protocols that are dropped into our laps with no background or understanding of who we are to connect with if a CODE BLUE occurs in the hospital and the paging system is down.  We were just expected to know it, but it really won't happen so you don't need to worry<-- True quote but we wouldn't take that for an answer and got it resolved).

Critical communication needs to be transmitted in a clear, concise, easy to understand way to ensure that there are no mistakes. If you have questions, ask them. If you need clarification, ask for it. Ensure during times of product, policy, strategy, or marketing rollout you have communicated clearly the expectations and what the plan is. Otherwise, you may end up pressing the wrong button. 

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