We're looking at communications from a pastor's perspective. See what Roger Clark has to say about the one question you should ask at the end of each meeting.

Guest post from Roger Clark, Executive Minister, Sherwood Oaks Christian Church

Our church is all about trying to do a better job of communicating. We use tiered communications and pursue clarity and simplicity in an attempt to get the most important messages out to our congregation. While we don’t always get it right, we are making progress.

Communicating internally is another story. I have attended hundreds of staff meetings. I've observed that even when our meetings seem effective and end on a high note of optimism, one question is often left unanswered. You might have guessed - who is responsible for this decision? That is an important question that needs an answer. Every decision needs to have a champion, one who leads in making sure an action plan and next steps are developed and executed. Most meeting facilitators get that one right. 

However, this one follow-up question is often neglected: Who else needs to know about this? Sometimes, decisions and plans are made by one team, and the very people who will be most affected or responsible for the implementation are not included and informed. One of these people is the communications director. One might argue that it would be a good practice to collaborate with all those who could be affected by a decision (a great idea), but at the very least, after the decision is made, they need to know. 

Failure to communicate the why, what and how of decisions to the very people who will be involved in the implementation breeds cynicism and mistrust. Even if the staff isn’t directly involved in the execution of the decision, they are often the ones fielding questions from volunteers and members of the congregation. Uninformed staff members can unwittingly sabotage even the best plan. Good communication makes for good alignment, both internally and externally.

Helping people understand new ideas and changes that result from our decisions works best when there are no surprises. At your next meeting, be sure to ask, "Who else needs to know about this?” You’ll be glad you did.