Too Much Information
A slang term these days when someone tells a story with unwanted details is "TMI," meaning "too much infor-mayyyy-tion," said with or without fingers in ears and followed by, "Lalalalalala!" That would be handy at work, some days. We are bombarded with information.
At a recent staff meeting, lab techs griped about email; one tech said she returned from her weekend off to seventy unread emails in her inbox. They receive frequent updates on who is on vacation, who has returned, what outpatient hours have changed, what schedules have changed, and what needs to be read immediately and done sooner than later, with or without attachments. There's spam that slithers by our firewall, too. For per diems, email is impractical. Some techs don't have personal computers at home (amazing, but these people exist) or just hate reading stuff online. As one tech put it, "When I get here in the morning I arrive to work, not read email for half an hour!"
No wonder. There are also bulletin boards, "Post these!" pieces of paper, mandatory meetings, informal meetings, reminders at meetings, notes tacked everywhere, memos, sealed envelopes, unsealed envelopes, mailboxes, performance evaluations, required checklists, policy and procedure updates, online training, online review of materials, telephone messages, and any notes left by colleagues. As I've blogged, we are communicated at and not with.
I try. I don't email staff, except to reply to the night tech. I don't "remind" people in meetings but instead sparingly use online "bulletins." I don't parrot what has already been said elsewhere, "mandatory" or not. I rarely post notes telling people what to do unless the need is urgent. And I ask people if they heard, understood, or already knew about a change. The grapevine is often my friend. But I'm still shouting above an ever-increasing din.
The solution – ironically impossible to communicate -- is not more emails, notes, meetings, bulletin boards, and urgent whatever-it-is. Neither – unfortunately – is sticking your fingers in your ears.
Next, I'll share solutions that might work in your lab.