A senior executive working for my client sent an email to me asking “Can we touch base on the document which you sent last week?” I agreed, though I wasn’t sure what this meant. During the call, the Exec asked me to walk through the document. I did this explaining what was already there in the document. Incidentally, the document had a one page executive summary too. The Exec kept on mumbling ‘OK”, ‘makes sense’, ‘true’.
After the whole document was discussed he asked me questions which clearly revealed that he hadn’t understood some core aspects at all. I said I would explain it again but that would need a face-to-face meeting.
Incredible amount of time is often spent in explaining what is already there in the documents circulated before meetings. Time that could be used and should be used for discussion and debate is spent only on explaining. I can understand some need to explain some complicated charts or tables, but often meetings gets converted into ‘classes’ !
There are the ‘smart’ ones who don’t read anything at all knowing fully well that in the meeting anyway the whole will be ‘read’ out. But there are a large number of Execs who find it seriously difficult to understand anything unless explained by someone in flesh.
Long email threads which eventually need meetings to ‘come on the same page’ is one outcome. Low managerial productivity is final result.
Therefore I would recommend reading & comprehension tests (of natural English text) for Execs along with their physical health checkup.
Next on the agenda would a listening test 🙂