There were many times in the course of my leadership journey where I heard this, loud enough (and exasperatingly enough) where I could hear it:
“Oh no, there he goes AGAIN”
It was music to my ears!
Why was I so happy to hear this?
That means they heard me say it once before. Or even twice before. Or better still, 14 times before.
They HEARD me. Whatever I was saying for the 15th time was already resident in their brains.
Since I am also one of those folks who has fully immersed themselves into the digital world, and all its distractions and multitasking, just to know that your teammates have heard something you said, and better yet, they remember that you said it, is quite the accomplishment these days.
But that’s only step one – the remembering part. What a leader really needs is comprehension. And then, a resulting action that is a reflection of the proper “absorption” of the message.
How can that be done, and done well? By repeating things, repeatedly.
By repeating things, repeatedly.
Not everything – but a LOT of things.
The leadership lesson is what I call “Terry’s Rule”: Anything you really need teammates to remember and understand needs to be repeated around 15 times, on average, depending on how important the message is.
The trick, or science, to doing this is not so much saying the same thing over and over again, but packaging it in different ways, and in different forms.
And, most certainly, taking advantage of those same digital tools that make it so hard to communicate a message in the first place.
Because just hearing a message multiple times isn’t enough. It needs to be on your internal web site, and on posters on your walls, on screen savers, on coffee mugs – and even in your e-mail signatures. Text it too. Instagram or Snapchat the posters. Pin up the mugs on Pinterest. Just keep at it.
Can this be overkill? Of course. But what I tend to see in a lot of places is a real reluctance to go as far as they should for this very fear. What leaders need to keep in mind in their messaging are concepts that are very similar to marketers and their messaging.
That is, just because you put something out there doesn’t mean everyone is even going to see it, or hear it.
That’s why we need to repeat things, repeatedly.
(My favorite message that gained traction through Terry’s Rule was the mantra “serve our customers and support each other“. It got to the point that during my many travels to the field, nearly every one of the 1,100 teammates that I had responsibility for would say the mantra to me, unprompted, as I approached them – before I even had a chance to say hello.)
Think about it – how many times do you look at your internal web site, mass emailings from the CEO or COO, or company bulletin boards, or actually pay close enough attention at staff or team meetings? There’s certainly an brain “open rate” involved, to use a marketing term.
And even if it’s heard (or read) the first time, or even the second time, how can you be sure if the message has really sunk in? Of course, one way is to ask – but how much time do we have to do that?
Just repeat things, repeatedly.
Don’t be afraid to hear those words.
“You sound like a broken record”
Just repeat things, repeatedly.
Note: For my long, long term readers – and thank you for still being here – if this post rings a bell you are correct, you’ve seen a slightly different version of this post before, back in 2010. Only 13 more times to go…. 🙂