Doctor Gayeski is internationally recognized as a scholar, speaker, consultant, futurist, and educator in strategic communication and learning. She is Dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College where she has been Professor of Strategic Communication since 1979. She is the author of more than 100 articles and 14 books, some of which are the principal texts used in undergraduate, graduate and corporate curricula in corporate communication, human resources, and instructional systems design.
I had the opportunity to learn more about Doctor Gayeski and her topic of information overload:
I'm a consultant, scholar, and professor of communications and in my experiences with many clients, I've found that so much of the great information that gets produced never gets processed well -- or in some cases, even seen at all. So not only is a lot of communication wasted, it's actually DETRIMENTAL to organizations. Much current research says that mistakes and poor performance happen now more frequently because of info overload than from a LACK of info.
In may organizations, employees become overloaded and make mistakes, get distracted from what they should be doing, and get mixed messages. It leads them to 'shut down' or in some cases actually quit.
My Ph.D. is in educational media which is based in proven theories about how people learn and why they behave the way that they do. My degree and consulting work also focuses on management theory and organizational communication. From all of these, I've been able to develop techniques to rigorously define performance gaps in measurable and objective terms, and to analyze the root causes of those gaps and then find appropriate solutions. Generally, for significant challenges in organizations, there are multiple causes and a coordinated "suite" of interventions is necessary.
4. What are examples of this tactic's success?
One of my clients was having performance problems with their phone customer service reps not being able to correctly understand the customer's problem and interpret rather complex governmental rules that would apply. By the time I was called in, they had increased their training to 16 weeks before a rep could actually get onto the floor and start working. I sat in on about an hour of the training, and was completely overwhelmed myself.
The underlying problems were several: first, they were hiring the wrong people for the job. The most significant job screen was a typing test. Although the reps DID need to use a keyboard to access info on the computer, an ability to empathize with customers AND an ability to read and solve complex problems was much more important. So the first thing we did was to revise the employment ads and screening processes. Second, the policy manuals were complex and very difficult to access and update. We developed a much more user-friendly method of indexing and finding related content. Third, we needed to get reps onto the floor more quickly since many of them actually dropped out part-way through their training class. We instituted a way to gradually let them work on easy tasks while being mentored, and we developed a checklist of job duties for them to watch and then practice with a mentor-- so at least they could be successful at completing some basic tasks immediately.
We were able to get people up to speed more quickly, reduce turnover, and reduce the training time -- all adding to the bottom line of making this agency much more effective in terms of customer satisfaction and cost.