I have always been curious about how ideas become reality. Perhaps that is how I ended up working in marketing and advertising, but I am always intriqued by the process in which ideas are executed. For example, as a child, I would watch television commercials and wonder how they were created, how the idea was pitched and how it was ultimately executed. Did a group of people sit around a room and just toss out ideas? Did some top executive come up with the idea and required the execution and development of that idea? How did it all happen logistically?
As my career progressed in the field of property management, I quickly realized that not all projects have a defined beginning and end. Sometimes a project is on-going and the “execution” takes consistent communication with key stakeholders. In my current role, as the marketing director for a residential property mangement company, I oversee the marketing of 43 properties in my region, it is very easy to consider each property as a separate, ongoing project. We manage for institutional investors and report back regularly on our operation of the property.
Recently, it became very clear to me that our team had failed in the eyes of one of our institutional investors because of a lack of communication. Typically, we send monthly reports to our investors and provide financial and operational information. If they specify the need for additional information, we can provide it, but we typically have a standard format that we send. It became very clear that this particular investor was most interested in maintaining the “high-end” brand of the property more than anything else, but he was not happy with our level of communication regarding the brand. Unbeknownst to my team, he wanted daily and weekly updates regarding this topic.
We recently discussed in class that some people prefer email over phone communication, others prefer phone over email. Some want to be informed of all details, while others prefer only high-level information. While sitting in class, I had a realization that it’s OK for people to have different communication preferences, but it just needs to be defined.
So, where did my team fail? We failed to ask our investor what he preferred. It is as simple as that. Had we prepared a communication plan from the beginning, we would have defined this relationship better and set the proper expectations for our success to deliver. I had this realization two class sessions ago and have since implemented a proper communication plan. This plan now clearly defines a few key factors and our invester couldn’t be happier:
- who will receive the information
- when we will provide information
- what format the information will be delivered
- how frequent the information will be delivered
Does your company define this for internal or external projects, even if they are on-going? If not, why do you think this simple step is often overlooked?