Just about every role in a business these days, including that of the CEO, involves receiving and passing along information to someone else. Maybe it's the sales reports you need to share with your board of directors about, or maybe even it's the financials you want to send to your direct reports. The key question, then, is how do you go about handling that information in the best way possible?
Here are three common ways people share information in organizations as information is passed up the organization Full Pass, Amplifier and Dampener. Turns out there's one best way to do it:
The Full Pass-- No Filtering
This is the most straightforward and, frankly, the easiest way to handle information in that you simply pass on literally everything that comes your way upward. People in this mode are afraid not to share something for fear they will miss something important or have a boss with a lack of trust. But it's also the least valuable. When you don't take the time to modify or screen information before you pass it along, you aren't adding any value to it--which forces your boss, your board or your co-workers to spend their time trying to decipher if the information is valuable to them or not. This strategy should be avoided at all costs.
The Amplifier--Make Things More Important
Unlike the person who sends every shred of information out the door untouched, the Amplifier uses their corporate megaphone to turn information into a crisis--something that they feel needs to be handled right away. If everything is urgent--nothing really is.
But rather than act strategically, the Amplifer does this same thing repeatedly, and often when there is really no crisis at hand. This then tangles up the entire organization in trying to figure out what's really at stake. Acting this way also marginalizes the Amplifer, as the rest of the organization will soon tune them out along the lines of the boy who cried wolf too often. Not surprisingly, Amplifers can wreak a lot of damage in an organization and this approach should also be avoided. They are toxic and create negative energy and effort. Don't do this!!!
The Dampener--Intelligently Filter Information
The most effective, and valuable, role anyone can take in terms of handling information is that of the Dampener, someone who acts as a skilled interpreter of the information and "dampens" the drama associated with it. Someone playing this role can analyze large amounts of data and sort out which elements should be flagged as important enough to share with the organization. The best Dampeners learn to filter the critical information and share context when they pass the information along, which helps their boss or teammates take immediate action on it. Unlike Full Passers and Amplifiers, Dampeners add amazing value to organizations because everyone learns to trust their insights into the issues they pass along. When they say something is important--people listen.
What's interesting to note is that in some cases, CEOs or bosses don't like their direct reports to be Dampeners. They don't trust their team to know what information is important, so they insist on everyone passing everything in full along to them. We call these bosses, "Infomaniacs".
If you find yourself in this camp as a leader, you might want to hit the pause button and evaluate your team and ask why you don't trust them. Maybe it's time to make some replacements. Or, just as importantly, it might be time to consider why you might be holding onto the reins too tightly. Imagine how much more productive you could be if you had a team of Dampeners feeding you only the information you needed to act on or that you needed to pass on to the team or your board? Your life would be so much better in that you could work less and get more done all at the same time.
What's not to like about that?