Managers Are Communicated THROUGH

Questions This Guidance Answers: 
  • What is the waterfall rule?
  • What is a manager's role in communication?
  • How do I add value to communication?

This guidance describes how managers ought to communicate organizational information to their team members.

When we present to clients, there's inevitably a discussion about how the manager's role relates to the larger organization. Managers want to understand, how do I handle my role as the voice of the company? How does that square with staying close to my team? Managers want to know, what's my role in terms of keeping my team informed? How do I balance confidentiality with transparency and openness?

When we probe a little, we discover the average manager is guilty of violating a fundamental rule of managerial behavior. This cast is about how to correct that.

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Great Cast!

Great cast guys, haven't looked at information in this light before, but definitely something to ensure my guys are aware of as well!


Kind Regards
Mads Sorensen
Disc 4536

Makes me think about things from a different perspective

I thought the cast was great. It definitely made me think in a different light. I used to think that a key part of my job was shielding my staff from too much communication. Now that I think about that, it sounds absurd - how can there be too much communication?

I had always shared some things with my staff when I felt it was relevant. I wasn't trying to hoard info, just trying to keep from overloading them. Now I realize that I have a duty to the organization to share as much as possible to ensure that they have the info they need to make smart business decisions (and provide them feedback on their decisions).

Something new to start the New Year with. Thanks.

Great Cast

Mike and Mark,

Great show!  I always thought it was just my manager and his boss that had the problem of communicating to the front line.  Do you have any suggestions on how to ask them to share?



This is a MT Hall of Fame first ballot cast! Well done. I am sharing this with anyone who will listen to me in my org. Thank you!

Managers are communicated THROUGH

I am a Administrative Assistant in the Washington, D.C. area my supervisor communicates everything and shares all information. The e-mail source of communicating is etc,. and if the Manager does not re-communicate at staff meetings---what is really means and pass on the information--- then the messages is sometimes misunderstood. A good Manager has to communicate in person at some point. You can not take the human element out of managing. I told my supervisor about Manager Tools. 

Mike and Mark you guys are great in keeping it real. 

Sensitive vs. Confidential

4 a : concerned with highly classified government information or involving discretionary authority over important policy matters <sensitive documents>
Not sure whether this usage is new or not, but I think it stands on its own, and doesn't have much to do with the other definitions of sensitive/sensitivity touched on in the cast.
Other than that nit, I found the core message of "through" vs. "to" great. 


Sensitive as distinct from confidential - no interpretation

 A number of companies I've worked for have used the word sensitive with a similar meaning to the definition given by Floyd, basically "Don't talk about it".  They have also used the word confidential.  The best definition of the difference I've every come accross was given to me by an assistant director where I currently work.  Confidential means that the information is for you but can be shared with anyone who has your confidence, that is who can act on your behalf.  Typically this would include your PA and/or deputy if you have them and your boss, it is unlikely to include your directs en masse.  Sensitive means the information is for you and should not be shared with anyone even if they have your confidence unless the source of the information explicitly says so.

When I was a union shop steward I always made sure that members knew that any information they gave me was confidential as defined above and in this case they should assue that any of the other stewards representing that same area and more senior officers could have access to their information and that I may need to discuss the information with those people (there was a lot of cross mentoring and sharing of expertise).

 On the point of interpreting and adding value...Where I work now a lot of information that is passed to managers to cascade to their directs comes with an instruction to not interpret or explain.  The manager is not permitted to add any value or speculate as to what it actually means.  Sometimes there appears to be a good reason why, e.g. it's something from HR relating to a point of law and they don't want manager's providing their own, probably incorrect, spin to it which may lay the organisation open to legal challenge.  Other times there does not appear to be any reason.  Several times I've had to send a question back up the line along the lines of "Yes?  But what does that actually mean in English?" or (back when I was a union shop steward) "What!?  That seems to be a breach of [reference to statute and/or case law] as phrased."  Makes for a challenging environment.






Skype: stephenbooth_uk  | DiSC: 6137

"Start with the customer and work backwards, not with the tools and work forwards" - James Womack


The "curse of knowledge" also gets in the way of effectiveness..

I'd recommend anyone interested in this topic start with this article about innovation.  The Heath brothers' book Made to Stick has much more about this and I highly recommend it.

Briefing books

The "briefing books" are mentioned a couple of times in this podcast...  That's the first time I can recall hearing that terminology.  I can guess it means something to do with keeping records of stuff you might need to brief a sucessor etc. 

Have I missed something? - or this is a future podcast discussion?