Monday, January 28, 2013

Communicating Effectively

I received a message from my supervisor last week; below you will find the message.

I was wondering if you were able to complete the new SOP for our internal application review project today instead of the original due date; this Friday. If we can get it done before the due date it would allow me to review it and compare it to our Florida location’s SOP draft. I took a look at your schedule and it looks like you have plenty of meetings and will be at one of our satellite locations on Thursday. Please let me know what time you will have it to me on Thursday. Thanks, Jessica.

Text version:
When I read the email I assumed that Jessica was asking me if I could accommodate her request. As I continued to read the email, the end of sounded like I had to have it done early based on the last sentence, “Please let me know what time you will have it to me on Thursday.” Her tone in the email sounds sympathetic in relation to my busy schedule. Because she is my supervisor she technically didn’t have to acknowledge my busy schedule or ask if I could accommodate her request. This text had mixed messages in it. However, with Jessica being my supervisor, it would be in my best interest to accommodate her request regardless of her “asking”.

This email needed to be organized better and be more concise. It had mixed messaging that confused the recipient (me). Dr. Stolovitch stated that, “Written communications should begin with a clear purpose.” I think Jessica could have simply asked, “Steve, can you get the new SOP report to me by Thursday instead of Friday?” That would have been just as effective.

Audio Version:
The same message was delivered to me via a voice message that Jessica left on my office and cell phone. The audio version of the message provided me with more color. I could sense urgency, panic, and concern in her voice. There was more of a sympathetic tone acknowledging my busy schedule. This in turn made the message sound more genuine.

In person:
Jessica is a very jovial person but is also very direct. We had an all staff meeting and after the meeting she asked the same question she had emailed to me and left as a voice message (I returned both the email and phone call prior to the meeting). When she made the request of me I could tell that she was more so “telling” me to have it done by Thursday but the rest of her mannerisms were suggesting that I had the option to have it done by Thursday instead of Friday. Dr. Stolovitch stated, “Tonality and body language are important elements in communicating in person.” The more familiar you are with a person in different settings and situations, the better you can interpret their message(s).

In my opinion, the best version of the message was the voice message she delivered to me because it include her voice/tone and was clear and concise. The second best version was in person but was diluted by her mannerisms. Normally body language and in person communication is the best and most preferred version of communication. In this particular instance, it was not. The email offers an added element. There can be a consistent paper trail and the messages can be reviewed multiple times and contain the same message. Dr. Stolovitch suggests that oral communication should always be documented.

Multimedia Program: “The Art of Effective Communication”

Video Program: "Communicating with Stakeholders" 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Post-mortem of a Project

I recently purchased my first home this past October and immediately began a project to construct a new bathroom in the basement. I wanted to add a basement bathroom so that the bedrooms downstairs could use it and it is provides one of the biggest return on investments for a house. I felt that I had enough skills to complete the project with a little help. Well it turned out I need more help than I thought. I did my research by reviewing do it yourself (DIY) manuals and speaking with professionals. My goal was to have it done in 2 months (working on it during the weekends).

Unfortunately it is January 27th, 2013 and the it is still not finished due to my lack of planning, understanding, and execution. I should of incorporated more planning into the project which would of made me aware of the mistakes I made along the way up to this point and would of eliminated the set backs I encountered.
A simple feasibility study would of outlined that I:
1: Lacked the plumbing skills and know how to run piping correctly for pressure.  
2: Did not purchase the correct materials and used the wrong materials in some instances. 
3: Didn't think to consult with a city inspector before choosing the location of the new bathroom
4: Didn't have some of the necessary equipment needed to access the old pipes under the ground. 

The biggest mistake was that I did not account for the adjustment of water pressure needed with the addition of a full bathroom. When the ground was all dug up, luckily a friend who has much more construction experience was able to help me lay the pipe in a manner that allowed for new piping to tap into existing piping. My mistake was running the piping through the frame work of the bathroom and not allowing enough venting. I also began installing the shower, sink, vanity, and toilet before installing the drywall because I wanted the bathroom functioning. That mistake tripled the amount of time it took to hang the dry wall because everything had to be cut around the fixtures that I installed. As a lesson learned, I should of done more research and preparation as well as consulting (effective communication) with industry professionals (SME's). If I would of done this I could of put together a plan to follow as well as give me a visual map along the way. Perhaps I was not comfortable with my learning environment. If the learner is comfortable with the learning environment, they are more apt to take to it (Siemens, 2012).