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The need for clear communication guidelines

 
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Published on: 11/13/2013
by Kevin Duncan @kevinjduncan on Twitter

While I was attending graduate school, I worked as a high school computer teacher. Of course, I wasn’t a computer teacher at the school, I was the computer teacher. As such, I was bestowed the title of resident, all-knowing “computer guy” when I came on board.

Now, some of you can already relate to the situation in which I found myself.

Perhaps you have a friend who is technologically challenged and who relies on you to help them whenever they need to move photos from their camera to their computer?

Maybe you have a loved one who needs your help every time they have to print something?

Or maybe you have a relative who calls you in a panic every time the words they type are “magically” displayed in all capital letters?

Now imagine if you had 100 such friends, relatives or loved ones.

To be fair, an overwhelming majority of the computer-related requests I received were valid and unavoidable. But then there were the other requests. The “I forgot my password again” requests. The “I know we’re two months into the school year, but remind me again how to record classroom attendance on the computer” requests.

And, my favorite, the “my computer broke/died” requests.

“You keep using that word (‘died’). I do not think it means what you think it means.”

 
The “my computer broke/died” requests took on many forms. Sometimes, a teacher would come up and verbally tell me their computer had “died.” It was only after I pressed them for more information would I discover that, to them, “died” meant they couldn’t print or check their e-mail.

Sometimes, these requests would be relayed to me in the form of sticky notes left on my classroom door.

“Kevin, my computer broke, please come look at it when you get a chance. – Room 314.”

In these instances, I would go see the teacher, ask a few follow-up questions, and eventually discover the issue dealt with their speakers not properly working.

My favorite “computer broke/died” moment came when I went back to my classroom after lunch to find a sticky note taped to my door.

It said, simply, “my computer died.” A frowny face was drawn underneath these somber words. And no name or room number was anywhere to be found.

Now, I know what you are thinking:

“Why didn’t you tell us you were clairvoyant, Kevin?? That seems like something you should have mentioned sooner.”

Alas, I am not clairvoyant. Apparently, in addition to being the resident computer guy, this teacher believed I was also the resident psychic – capable of deciphering the authors of anonymous sticky notes.

Unfortunately, this bit of miscommunication resulted in my not getting to the computer in time to save its life.

Of course, since it was running Windows 98, I’m not sure there was anything I could have done.

 
The mistake I made back then was not having a clear, set method for teachers to relay to me their computer issues. The result was one person might tell me in person, another might email me, and another might leave me a cryptic message via sticky note.

Depending on your church, you might have one technologically-savvy man or woman wearing many hats. But even if you have a team of individuals handling your website and social media duties, the need for clear communication guidelines remains the same.

Keep it simple.

I have found communicating via email or Facebook Messenger to be easiest ways to communicate with the pastor (or whoever I am working with in regards to the church’s website). I always have a record of our communication, and if either of us have a question it’s easy to compose a response.

Other forms of communication may work best for you and your church situation. Whatever you go with, just try your best to stick with it.

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