Weekend Poll Results: Alphabetical References Trump the Hierarchical

No, we’re not talking US politics!

With thanks to all who participated, here are the results of this past weekend’s poll. The focus?

Do your communication styles perpetuate or bust assumptions of office hierarchies?

The results

AlphabetNot too many years ago, contact lists and minutes typically signalled individuals’ places in their respective pecking orders. Last week, I asked readers to consider current office cultures – and whether they’re required to emulate the hierarchies of org. charts for their lists and records, or if they adopt a more egalitarian approach involving alphabetical and divisional references.

The majority of respondents turn to the alphabet to determine the order in which they identify contacts and meeting participants. The same goes for building and maintaining email distribution lists. A strong percentage of respondents reference people alphabetically within units, divisions or portfolios.

Does it matter?

Not to 18% of respondents. 82%, however, prefer adopting an alphabetical approach.

Just a minute …

When it comes to minutes, though, almost a third of respondents reported that hierarchical references remain prominent. Read on for full details.

The Data

Do you prepare one or more contact lists within your organisation? 

  • Yes: 83% of respondents
  • No;  someone else in the office has this responsibility: 17% of respondents

Which of the following best describes the format of your contact lists? 

  • Alphabetical: 54% of respondents
  • Alphabetical, by units/divisions/portfolios: 23% of respondents
  • Hierarchical: 8% of respondents
  • Hierarchical, by units/divisions/portfolios: 8% of respondents
  • 7% of respondents selected “Other”. One wrote, “N/A”.

Which of the following best describes the sequence by which you record attendance for meeting minutes? 

  • Alphabetical: 46% of respondents
  • Alphabetical, with distinctions between participant groups/observers, guests, etc.: 23% of respondents
  • 31% of respondents selected, “Other”. Respondents’ comments included the following.
    • “Chair first, Clerk last, alphabetical in the middle”
    • “Hierarchical with distinctions, then alphabetical for line staff”

Which of the following best describes the sequence by which you build email distribution lists?

  • Alphabetical: 64% of respondents
  • Alphabetical, within units/divisions/portfolios: 18% of respondents
  • Hierarchical, within units/divisions/portfolios: 18% of respondents

Which approach to identifying contacts/participants do you prefer?

  • Alphabetical: 82% of respondents
  • I’m fine with either; it makes no difference: 18% of respondents

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