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Activity Handout: Repeat again

Read these caselets and decide how you would assign some tasks.

Caselet A

You are Dereks manager


Derek needs to work on a critical proposal
which will enable your organisation to position
its services to a new client. This is a time-bound
task because your competitors are also vying
for this business.
You are based out of the same city as Derek
but he usually works from home.

You are a manager. Leena works on some of


your projects but does not report to you.

Caselet B

Leena needs to compile a visually impactful


report of past wins. This is a time-bound task
because your senior leadership needs this
information for selecting strategic priorities for
the new financial year.
You live in the same city as Leena but she works
out of a different office.

A. Use the following matrix to decide what mode of communication you will use to assign these
tasks. The first row has been done for you as an example.

Voice mail

Written document
or note

Text message

Electronic
document

(1)

Email

Example

Collaboration tool

Instant message
(such as MS Lync)

Mode of
communication

Telephone/mobile

ii.

Place aif you would use this mode of communication in this situation and an X if you
wouldnt. Leave the box blank if youre not sure. Two or more indicate that you
would use multiple modes to assign this task.
If you have more than one tick, rank them based on what you would do first, second etc.

Face to face

i.

(2)

Caselet A:
Dereks task
Caselet B:
Leenas task

B. Compare your matrix with a partner. Discuss why you would prefer to use the modes of
communication that youve selected.
Designed by Adi Rajan (@adi_rajan)

Activity Handout: Repeat again

C. Now, contrast your own ideas with some research done in this area.
A study by researchers from Harvard Business School and Northwestern University suggests that
managers need to ask their employees at least twice in order to get them to do something. The
research team shadowed 13 managers in six companies for 250 hours and discovered the
following:
One in every seven communications was redundant. The manager had already said or
written the same thing to an employee using some other mode of communication such as
over the phone and email.
Managers with consciously redundant communication were able to drive their projects
more rapidly and effectively.
They also discovered that the approach varied based on power dynamics:
Managers without authority or formal power such as project leads are more proactively
and consciously redundant in their communication, often with very little time gap
between two or more modes. For example, the project manager assigns a task in a face to
face meeting and then repeats the same information in an email 20 minutes later.
Managers with formal authority such as supervisors seem to use redundant
communication more reactively, only when they dont get the response they want.
Bottom line: Clarity alone is not key to good communication. You may need to use multiple
modes to be effective. Managers are using redundant communication strategically to get work
done.
Source: Neely, T. & Leonardi, P.M., Defend your Research: Effective Managers Say the Same Thing
Twice (or More) in the Harvard Business Review, May 2011.
D. Do you agree with the findings of this study? We have always been told that redundancy in
communication is inefficient. Why do you think managers are increasingly repeating
themselves over several modes of communication?

Designed by Adi Rajan (@adi_rajan)