Want to know how important good communication is? Here’s a great example, with a twist.  The original post, Good communication linked to high levels of engagement, appeared today on Business Education Headline News. The one-line synopsis

Research from the U.S. shows that employees who enjoy frequent communication from senior management are more likely to be engaged with their organization.

shows just how a couple of words can change meaning in crucial ways.  The synopsis claims a causal relationship that is absent from the study and from the title of the original article about that study in internalcommshub.com. Here’s what the original study found:

highly engaged employees are much more likely to receive communication from senior managers at least once a month. More than half (56%) of these employees receive communication from senior management at least monthly.

This statistic is clearly different from summary in the blog post. The blog claims that it’s the communication that predisposes employees to be engaged, while the original article claims that the engagement level of employees may make communication from senior management more common.

The real data is likely different yet. Here’s the following statement in the original article reporting on they study:

 In contrast, 42% of low-engaged employees say they receive annual communication or no communication at all.

Given research methodologies, this statement probably more closely reflects the insights the study could glean. I’d guess in the study, employees who were more engaged reported receiving more communication, while those less engaged reported receiving less communication.

That might mean communication will engage your employees, or it might simply affirm your supposition that employees who are more engaged are more attentive to the communications that everyone in the company receives.

Tim’s Takeaway:

Read your research carefully before you base policies on it. And always be suspicious of any human studies that claim to demonstrate causality. You can rarely set up a human study that shows more than relationship and correlation.

Influence – Why is it so hard to teach?

I just returned from a big company meeting where I joined a team to train a big group of new hires, nearly four hundred in all. The training went well. And the team of trainers got to talking about recent training sessions that hadn’t gone well. Influence training came up again and again.

There are a host of classes that are relatively likely to get high reviews–sales skills, presentation skills, critical thinking skills. Not that the subjects are necessarily easy to teach, but when the day is done, participants are grateful and it shows in their reviews. This is often not the case with influence. With a lot of workshops on influence, scores are uneven, some high, some very low.

There are two problems with influence workshops as they’re often led, one lies with the leaders and one with the participants. Read the rest of this entry

Kudos to Jim Estill. His blog “ceo blog – time leadership” was just named among the top 10 leadership Jim Estill Cover Page from his blogblogs by HR World. Coincidentally, one of his posts, What Gets Measured Gets Done, was also named among the top 5 blog posts of the week by Wally Block.  Jim is right, of course, what gets measured gets done. And he provides the nifty example in his dedication to his fitness routine (which is impressive in itself). But he doesn’t go far enough.

A good lesson comes from Atul Gawande, a 2006 MacArthur Fellow and general surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. In his book titled simply BETTER, Gawande tells the story of the most innocent of measurement scales–the Apgar scale–that spawned one of the greatest advances in the American system of health.

Dr. Virginia Apgar created the scale in 1953 in response to the terrible observation that all the great advances in medicine in the previous hundred years had been unable to reduce rate of infant death at the time of birth. Though mothers were much more likely to survive the birth of their children, the child still faced a 1-in-30 chance of dying while struggling to come into the world.

Apgar’s solution was simple and stunningly effective. Read the rest of this entry