Next to my “daytime job”, I spend many of my weekends on a race circuit. Not as a driver but as the Race Director. My responsibility, amongst other things, is ensuring the safety on track and, like flight attendants before every flight, I also have to present the mandatory safety briefing.
The 2017 race season has just started, so now everybody still pays attention. But I know that in a couple of races from now there will be drivers thinking “we’ve heard this all before, this is a waste of time.” Often, these are the first people to make mistakes, hopefully only resulting in a penalty and not an accident. I therefore make it my challenge to keep improving the “packaging” of my briefing to get the message across.
I see the same behavior when managing people in the office. Procedures and instructions are created and clearly communicated but some people still do not understand them at first hearing (and will be afraid to ask for clarification) while others don’t even pay attention as they are convinced they know everything better anyway.
In my experience, “saying it once” is rarely enough. I find I need to repeat messages multiple times until the desired way-of-working becomes naturally embedded. And even then, an extra gentle reminder once in a while doesn’t seem to hurt.
The challenge for me is to find the natural frequency of repetition for my target groups. Below that frequency, people forget; above that frequency, people get bored and start ignoring the message. A variation in the style of communication seems to help me to reach the goal, but what’s your experience?