Give Your Employees a Forum to Improve Communications

When I enter an organization, I am considered a “change agent” and The Boss expects things to be different after I have engaged with the company.  After a good bit of time observing the culture and interviewing the employees, I set off to improve the organization’s profitability and ultimately the owner’s equity.  I usually have the top five areas that I look at for improvements.  One of those areas is communications.

Recently I began working with an organization with five department heads.  I asked The Boss how often they meet as a group.  He stated they did not and there was no reason to as he had an “open-door policy” and anyone of his people could come and talk with him at any given time.  After more discussions, I found the main reason was money.  He ultimately said he calculated the hourly salary cost of each manager and to have them all in one meeting at a time would be too expensive for the company as they were experiencing lean cash flow.  I said I understand as I would do the same calculations in my companies, but I did not see the salaries as an expense but an investment.

After interviewing the department managers, I was told by more than one that; “No one really knows what I do here!”  If that was true, how could this person really be appreciated for what he or she brought to the company?  I recommended The Boss have a monthly manager meeting with an agenda and a time limit to help control the investment that The Boss would be making in his company.

The monthly meeting would be set up so each manager would have an opportunity to report on their departments as to what they did last month and what their plans were for the department this month.  The managers would be doing most of the talking and in a sense reporting to The Boss and the other managers their “wins”, “losses”, and “challenges” in their departments.  This gave the managers a forum to communicate with each other that would spill over to their daily routines and begin to create enhanced teamwork and greater efficiencies between the managers in the organization.

I explained this type of communication was different than what The Boss offered in his “open-door policy”.  The managers topics would be different between their peers than it was between The Boss.  Now this newsletter speaks to the enhanced communications and team work that comes with this type of managers meeting, but it can also be tied to an improvement in accountability when it is accompanied by a “balanced scorecard”.  By using a balanced scorecard, the managers would have metrics they would report on to the group.  The Boss could celebrate the “wins” and use the “losses” as a coaching moment for the entire group.  The “challenges”, which would be highlighted the balanced scorecard, would be a topic for all to contribute their ideas as they rally as a group to help each other to develop solutions.  Communications begets teamwork, and teamwork begets improved efficiencies which begets an improvement in owner’s equity.  Create a forum for your employees to talk to each other and improve your bottom line.