Communication is key

I’m currently in process of moving house. Something regularly listed as one of the most stressful things to do and it really doesn’t surprise me.

The last time we moved we were forced to exchange on our sale before our purchase to stop the chain collapsing. We then had a week wondering whether we’d be homeless at the end of it!

Much of the problem was caused by our estate agents. Their communication was appalling. They rarely returned our calls and when we did get to speak to someone we rarely got anything useful out of them. In the end our buyers knocked on our door to ask if they were still buying the house as they’d heard so little, and this was the only reason things did still go through.

This time would be different I thought.

Our estate agent this time has been quite good to be fair. I was always a bit dubious about who they were working for when it came to negotiating and often felt they were pushing us to accept offers we weren’t happy with. But communication wise they’ve been good and I’ve always felt quite well informed about how things are going.

Unfortunately the same hasn’t materialised on our purchase where the big problem has been the tenants currently occupying the house and when they might vacate. So far we’ve been told:

Not a problem, month to month and only 1 month’s notice no problem for 31 October – this was pre offer
No problem at all, will serve notice tomorrow and only 1 month’s notice no problem for 31 October – this was when we made the offer 10th Sep
Actually 2 months’ notice, have served notice but takes effect next week so will be mid Nov – week after offer
2 months’ notice, have served today and takes effect shortly will be start Dec – now 1 Oct

This is awful communication and has really annoyed us. We are so annoyed in fact that we feel suspicious of the whole deal now and feel like pulling out.

With good communication you can get away with a lot (look at Tony Blair ;-)). Bad communication on the other hand can make even good endeavours go bad. Communication really is key.

Nowhere is this more so than in my industry of pensions.

A great recent example is the BBC pensions debacle. Lack of communication between management and the trustees looking after the scheme has led to outcry by all parties and planned strike action. I know of other large organisations that have taken almost identical steps with their pension schemes but there was not a ripple of trouble.

Communicate, ensure understanding and manage expectations and you will do a better job no matter what industry you are in.