Some of the earliest lessons I remember from secondary school (ages 11-16) are about how different people receive messages differently. I’m sure I was taught this at primary school but knowing me I would have been looking out the window searching for butterflies. Not that I stopped doing so when I moved up to secondary school, but perhaps my memory is just a bit better from those years.
Anyway, we are taught that you should tailor your message to an individual as they will receive it in their own way. Different people hear, see, think different things.
So what happens when you’re communicating to many people? You convey the message in the way that you believe best broadcasts the audience as a whole. And you have a secret weapon, which can also be your downfall – context and background. Okay, so that might be two secret weapons but bear with me.
Imagine this – you’re doing an end of year webcast to your supplier ecosystem. In it you have awards and recognition for those suppliers that have really made a difference. Moved the needle as the modern world likes to say. What about those that aren’t recognized. How will they take it? Well, you know that they will be disappointed but hopefully it should give them incentive to push a bit harder, to step up. You are singling out those that are exceptional and those are the few.
Is that how the supplier sees it? What if the supplier looks at those recognized and thinks that everyone else is there but them. They feel slighted. They wonder why they try so hard for you and deliver their best people and perform outside of the contract. They don’t have your secret weapon(s) – context and background.
You know that they are one of many suppliers who weren’t recognized. You know that there is no slight, that those that were selected have really gone so far outside of what was expected you wonder how they managed. You know that there was a bun fight internally about who was selected as not everyone agreed, but the top dog won the fight and you had to accept it.
So check in with them. Ask them their views on the webcast. Give them the opportunity to express their concerns without stewing. And then you can tell them they are one of many that weren’t selected. You can tell them that your supplier ecosystem is much broader than they realized and remind them of the criteria that they may have missed on the webcast as they were steaming with fury at not seeing their name in lights.
Check in. One call can save many.