Distractions are unavoidable for remote teams.
54% of respondents from Udemy’s Workplace Distraction Report acknowledge that distractions prevent them from performing to the best of their ability. An even higher number of employees – 70% of team members – believe proper training is key to blocking out distractions and staying focused.
But distractions can be the grim reaper to productivity. A person who is distracted when listening to instructions is much more likely to be confused and fail to deliver.
Since it takes so much to get your team’s attention, how do you make it count? How do you communicate clearly in the specific moments that count in remote and flexible teams, so that everyone knows exactly what they need to do?
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a foolproof framework for these situations? There is a huge amount involved in ‘being clear’, but one model has potential for almost all situations where you need to convey information.
The 4MAT model, developed by Bernice McCarthy, is a tool that you can use to harness your team’s attention. In fact, this approach will help you win in almost any communication situation where you’re giving information.
The 4MAT framework shows us that people have four main questions that they want answered, and they have a particular order they want them answered in. We can stay interesting and on point if we address the four questions in people’s minds, in the order they want them answered: Why? What? How? and then What if?
Think about how this works in one of your life situations – listening to podcasts. You don’t spend time listening to a podcast unless you have a good reason why – you need an idea of why this investment of your time and energy matters. Let’s say it’s financial advice, and you’re considering your financial position. The podcast has to tempt you with a good reason to listen. And then you want to know “Ok, so what?”. Let’s say the main point is a recommendation that applies to people in your financial position. You hear about the recommendation, then you want to know “Ok now how? How do I do that?”. And finally your thinking will move to the questions you have about the problems that might arise in the course of taking that action, your ‘What ifs’.
If your clever podcaster addresses these questions in this order, you’re likely to be a happy audience member for a lot longer than if they answered in any other order.
Let’s see how the 4MAT model would apply to a situation you might find yourself in with your remote team:
Imagine that your company has built a new product, and you’re training your remote sales team on this development.
- You set up a video call and begin by sharing your insights on why the company decided to add this to the portfolio: because you can see a clear space in the market and your customers are saying they need this. Ultimately this will come back to them as increased sales.
- You then move on to the “what” – defining the new product for your team – its benefits and features.
- You follow with how you want them to incorporate the core product information into sales pitches and any steps they need to take.
- Lastly you answer the questions that arise from the group – their ‘What ifs’. Using this model, your remote sales team will get all the information they need in a way that makes sense, and you’re much less likely to get confusion after the call.
The 4MAT model is especially useful for conveying information in a way that will be received and easily understood, which is especially important in remote teams.
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