Streamline - Fall 2012 - (Page 7)
BY MARK ESTES, VRWA PRESIDENT
The Importance of Communication and the Andy Griffith Tactic
IF YOU MANAGE
a water or wastewater system like me, you have endured a week where every single day seems like a Monday. The movie “Groundhog Day” with Bill Murray is a great example of situational redundancy. Every day is the same and the following day is no different. A crisis is a dynamic event that develops, changes and evolves, over time, into a unique life of its own. Every conflict or crisis has three distinct phases; it has a beginning, a middle and, hopefully, an end. How we resolve a crisis has as much to do with how we communicate as it does with what we are communicating. During every crisis, what we say, how we say it, who we tell and how we distribute the message will determine how our staff and customers respond. Communication strategy can vary during every stage of the crisis process. A simple communication error, a “faux pas,” has been proven beyond question that ineffective communication is the predominate cause of failed efforts and situational decline. When stress levels are high and time is critical, crafting the right message is a monumental task. There are several irrefutable and substantive “laws” associated with communications during a crisis: • Thinking what to say during a crisis situation can be difficult. It is very easy to send the wrong message with erroneous facts or misinformation. The wrong message can actually increase confusion and distrust. • During a crisis, reading levels and comprehension are greatly reduced. Negative statements will dominate the message. It takes four positive messages to overcome one negative statement. • Think about your audience. The demographics of your listeners may affect their ability to understand and cooperate with your wellintended efforts. • What about key personnel? Have you ever noticed that every crisis occurs when the division leader is on vacation or unavailable? Who will mange staff and make the field level decisions? • Scrutiny. A botched public response may invoke a level of distrust and convey a mixed signal. Think about how you will be received and what your position is. • Plan your messages ahead of time. Create and develop clear and concise messages in advance of a disaster that simplify and improve communication during a crisis as well as several months after a major incident. Planned messages deliver clear, consistent communication throughout a crisis. Planning ahead also allows consideration of how the message will affect and motivate all audiences.
During every crisis, what we say, how we say it, who we tell and how we distribute the message will determine how our staff and customers respond.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Fall 2012
From the President
From the Executive Director
A Day ( or Two) in the Life of a Circuit Rider
The Necessary Evolution of Water and Wasterwater Utilities
Craig-New Castle PSA: One Small System's Giant Leap into the Future
Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on our part
Extra Highlights from 2012 VRWA Conference
Virginia Department of Transportation Work Zone Traffic Control Update
FOG (Fat, Oil and Grease): Sewer Public Enemy No.1
The Inspector Found What?
Ergs, Joules & Such
Understanding your Job as a Board or Council Member?
Throwing My Loop
Do You Know What Your VRWA Benefits Are?
Welcoming New Members
Board Of Directors
Index to Advertisers/Ad.com
Streamline - Fall 2012