Fundamental of Communications
To improve communications, work not on the utterer but recipient.
It is the recipient who communicates. Unless there is someone who hears, there is no communication. There is only noise. One can perceive only what one is capable of perceiving. One can communicate only in the recipients’ language or in their terms. And the terms have to be experience-based we perceive, as a rule, what we expect to perceive. We see largely what we expect to see, and we hear largely what we expect to hear largely what we expect to hear. The unexpected is usually not received at all. Communication always makes demands. It always demands that the recipient become somebody, do something, believe something. It always appeals to motivation. If it goes against her aspirations, her values, her motivations, it is likely not to be received at all or, at best, to be resisted.
Where communication is perception, information is logic. As such, information is purely formal and has no meaning. Information is always encoded. To be received, let alone to be used, the code must be known and understood by the recipient. This requires prior agreement, that is, some communicate.
Rules for Staff Work
Staff work is not done to advance knowledge; its only justification is the improvement of the performance of operating people and of the entire organization.
First, staff should concentrate on takes of major importance that will continue for many years. A task of major importance that will not last for-ever – for example, the reorganization of a company’s management – is better handled as a one-time assignment. Staff work should be limited to a few tasks of high priority. Proliferation of staff services deprives them of effectiveness. Worse, it destroys the effectiveness of the people who produce results, the operating people. Unless the number of staff tasks is closely controlled, staff will gobble up more and more of operating people’s scarcest resource: time.
Effectives staff work requires specific goals and objectives, clear targets, and deadlines. “We expect to cut absenteeism in half within three years” or “Two years from now we expect to understand the segmentation of our markets sufficiently to reduce the number of product lines by at least one third.” Objectives like these make for productive staff work. Vague goals such as “getting a handle on employee behavior” or “a study of customer motivation” do not. Every three years or so, it is important to sit down with every staff unit and ask, “What have you contributed these last three years that makes a real difference to this company?”
Rules for Staff People
Unless staff people have proved themselves in operations, they will lack credibility among operating people and will be dismissed as “theoreticians.”
Rules for staff people are just as important as rules for staff work. Don’t ever put anyone into a staff job unless he or she has successfully help a number if operating jobs, preferably in more than one functional area. For if staff people lack operating experience, they will be arrogant about operations, which always look so simple to the “planner.” But today, in government even more than in business, we put young people fresh out of business or law school into fairly senior staff jobs as analyst or planners or staff counsel. Their arrogance and their rejection by the operating organization practically guarantee that they will be totally unproductive.
With rare exceptions, staff work should not be a person’s “career” but only be a part of his or her career. After five to seven years on a staff job, people ought to go back into operating work and not return to a staff assignment for five year or so. Otherwise, they will soon become behind-the-scene wire pullers, “gray eminences,” “kingmakers,” “brilliant mischief-makers.”
Role of Public Relations
“Public Relations” has acquired a connotation of ballyhoo, propaganda, and whitewashing.
To the general public, “public relations” means publicity – essentially an extension of advertising from advertising a product to advertising its producer. But, the emphasis should be on acquainting the broad public with the problems of the enterprise rather than on convincing it of the company’s virtues and achievements. This leads to the realization that to public’s problems first.
Every major decision of a great corporation affects the public somehow, as workers, consumers, citizens; hence the public will react consciously or subconsciously to every move the company make. On this reaction depends, however, the effectives of the company’s decision – simply an-other way of saying that any corporation lives in society. Hence the effectiveness of the executive’s decision depends not only on his understanding the problems of his business but also on his understanding the public attitude toward his problems. Hence the program of public relations is to give both central-office and divisional executives a knowledge of public attitudes and beliefs, and an understanding of the reasons behind them.