In the afterword to The Tipping Point in paperback, Malcolm Gladwell predicts that people will become immune to email over time: “the more email we get, the shorter and more selective and more delayed our responses become. These are the symptoms of immunity.”
One the biggest challenges for our team here at Big Creek Church has been communication, especially in the areas of recruiting. Recruiting volunteers and letting those in our congregation know about events and opportunities has been a constant challenge. In light of that, one of the things that I have been trying to emphasize at Big Creek is limitation of email. Email has a purpose, but that purpose is not to recruit volunteers. Email doesn't demand a call to action or require a response. People can forget and ignore email and you never know if the email has been read.
As a way to address our communication for our staff, I came up with this information entitled the Five Levels of Communication
I know that this information isn't rocket science, it actually isn't very novel. But putting this list in front of our staff has reminded them that if they want better and more consistent results, they need to engage in level 4 or 5 communication. When we first talked about this information at our staff meeting, it called out the elephant in the room. That elephant was that our staff wanted and expected ministry success by only communicating either via email or the website. Greater success in recruiting and communication was going to require more effort and a need for them to be more intentional. Also, this list has given us a shorthand of talking. When someone says at staff meeting, "I couldn't get any volunteers sign-up for ____". We can ask them, how did you ask for volunteers, was it level 4 and 5? Or not?
Here are the five levels...
Five Levels of Communication
1- Broadcast - not to anyone specific/general group of people (ie. Big Creek Blast - our e-newsletter, Bulletin, Print Newsletter, Website)
Benefits: Sow broadly, ease of communication, speed of communication
Disadvantages: Message is sown broadly; to people it doesn't apply to. The old adage, "Everyone’s challenge is nobody’s challenge"
2 - Email - to specific person/group of people
Benefits: Ease of communication, speed of communication
Disadvantages: Just because sent, doesn't guarantee it was read, people are inundated with a lot of email, more impersonal. Also, with email it hard to communicate emotion and urgency.
3 - Pinger- to specific person/group of people (www.pinger.com - this is like a calling post, but to people's cell phones)
Benefits: Ease of communication, speed of communication, power of using voice, more apt to get people's attention
Disadvantages: No two-way communication/feedback isn't real-time, no guarantee it is listened to.
4- Phone call - to a specific person
Benefits: Real time two-way communication and feedback, a call gets their attention and more potential to get immediate results
Disadvantages: Time and energy intensive, people can screen calls, may not get them in - therefore playing phone tag. Can only communicate with one person at a time. [Leaving a voice mail does not count as making a phone call!]
5 - Face to Face Communication - to a specific person (or to a group of people)
Benefits: Real time two-way communication and feedback (verbal and non-verbal). Highest guarantee of desired results.
Disadvantages: Effort to find and get time with a person. Must work at getting physical proximity in order to communicate. Usually can only communicate effectively with fewer numbers of people.These five levels of Communication are on a scale of effectiveness. As you recruit members on your team, don't forget that the best results will come from Level 4 or 5 Communication. But you and I need to be engaged in all levels of communication to be most effective.