CADDManager on December 15th, 2011

Redundancy Works

I have commented before that managers should repeat themselves often.  Not so much making the exact same statements, but sharing the same information in differing ways.  Multiple times.

In a recent article in Harvard Business Review (Effective Managers say the same thing twice – or more, May 2011) Tsedal Neeley and Paul Leonardi actually did a study on redundant messages.  It stated the managers who sent more redundant messages got tasks done faster and with fewer hiccups.  The context was managers who had formal power over the team members and those that did not.  21% of the messages sent by managers who were working with people they did not have formal power over (like many CAD and BIM Managers) were defined as redundant.  When someone had formal power, the messages that repeated reduced to 12%.  It was observed that those with formal power assumed that workers and team members would just do what they were told and so repeating messages was unneeded.

What they found is that those without formal organizational reporting power over others tended to send messages the repeated what was discussed to reinforce what was discussed.  This way they felt they were insuring that the message was understood. Those with formal power tended to become redundant when they noticed that the message was no received correctly.  So reinforcing prior to misunderstandings provided better results than correcting misunderstanding after they happen.

They found that with the modern offices working in project teams and with people on multiple teams, there is a need to refresh and repeat messages to ensure that people get the communication in a way they understand and at a time they are ready to receive it.

This reinforces my perspective that managers should be repeating the messages they try to send to others in many differing ways.  Redundancy can be a verbal message followed by a memo or email.  Or it could be a meeting announcement followed by personal reminders to people.

So repeat yourself.  Over and over.  Say it again in another way.  Send the message multiple times.  (How is that for redundancy?)

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