Communication is always the most critical function of any organization – or perhaps another way to say it is, most misunderstandings are caused by a lack of communication.
The importance of communication recently was brought to mind by my 15-year-old son, Ian. We were working on the yard just 30 minutes before dark and Ian was cutting the grass (his least favorite chore). I was trimming the shrubs.
We were trying to finish before sundown and supper but Ian was getting hungry. He asked me if we could “stop to eat.”
I told him “no, let’s finish the job before sundown.”
He went in to get a drink of water before we finished but came right back and said that “supper was ready.”
I don’t like to keep Mary waiting so I stopped and went inside. When I arrived in the kitchen it was clear that supper was not ready. Ian was upstairs playing his guitar.
When I asked what was going on, Mary said that Ian asked her when supper would be ready.
She replied, “As soon as you stop mowing the lawn.”
Good communication is clear and direct – and that’s why we are building a new communication network with our committees, Divisions, Sections and Regions.
Each committee, Division, Section and Region has been asked to set and communicate their goals in a general business plan, which will make it easier to measure progress and work together.
Each committee also is asked this year to develop a broad-based membership, and to talk regularly with their committee managers and staff liaisons. Recently, the Executive Committee asked certain committees to make sure they have Region representatives from each Region in order to improve communications and develop new ideas on the committees.
Good communication also is structured, which is why Carol McGowen, AAPG’s Sections and Regions manager, is working to establish a good communication network with the Sections and Regions. For example, we now have regular teleconferences with Sections and Region presidents.
We also are working with the Sections and Regions on the development of regular newsletters.
The new AAPG offices also are key to exchange of ideas with members and the general public. The GEO-DC office has built a good reputation for providing scientific information and expertise to the government in Washington, D.C. The new AAPG London office and Bahrain office will help develop contacts and develop two-way information flow with AAPG members in those regions.
Good communication should be frequent and followed up. We have a 48/7 policy at AAPG headquarters. Staff is asked to reply to any communication within 48 hours and follow-up within seven days – even if the first response is just “I’ll get back to you.”
I realize there are times when we cannot respond that fast, but that is our goal – and the staff knows it is important.
Good communication should also use the best available technology. AAPG’s IT department is investigating new methods of communication via the Internet and video conferencing.
Finally, improving a society from good to great involves building relationships. Communication is key to these relationships and cannot be done via e-mail and phone alone. It also requires meeting members face-to-face. That is why AAPG leadership and staff are spending more time traveling to meet members and visit their companies to understand needs.
The best business is still developed on a personal level.
Clearly, my son and I are in the process of developing our communication skills. Good communication also takes time and patience to develop.
I am sure my teenager will help me develop these skills.