“Employee communication is essential,” say the gurus. They don’t necessarily say what or how. Some managers are reluctant to share business information with staff. They’re concerned that it may be undervalued or abused. Maybe that’s a risk you have to take. Well informed employees are essential for business success. Here’s what to do.
Start At Recruitment
Make sure you have some sort of induction process that includes corporate philosophies, objectives and standards. If possible, discuss them with job candidates as part of your selection process. At the very least, new starters should hear about these on their first day. Start eliminating “I didn’t know” from employee’s vocabularies from the very start.
Build A “Company Way”
If you’re the owner of “Joe’s Plumbing” develop a “Joe’s Plumbing” way of doing things. It should reflect business, employee and customer relationship philosophies you want your people to practice to achieve your business goals. Make sure that the “Joe’s Plumbing” way enables customers to positively differentiate in favour of your business. Communicate your “way” to employees.
Keep Them In The Picture
Inform your employees. Trust them to regard company information judiciously. They should know your marketing position, strategy and tactics. They should know where your profits come from and how interaction with clients and customers affects profitability. They should know how performance is measured: both their own, their team and that of the company. That’s the minimum they should know.
Meet Staff Face To Face Frequently
To enhance employee communication, put in place a face to face meeting between you as CEO and your staff on at least a monthly basis. Sending out a “staff notice”, sticking something “on a notice board” or circulating “operations and procedural amendments” are a poor substitute for the well planned face to face meeting with ample opportunity for staff response, feedback and input.
Tell Them About Change Before It Happens
Lots of things may confuse employees. But none more then having significant changes “dumped” in them. If the change affects their capacity to do their job properly, you’re likely to cause major problems for yourself. Tell staff in advance about changes that will affect them.
Build Effective Customer Management Systems
Managers must ensure that all employees understand how vulnerable the business is to carelessness, sloppiness, discourtesy and perceived disrespect. The best way to do this is to develop effective customer treatment systems that all employees must understand and observe. Grab every opportunity for staff to obtain both positive and negative customer feedback, And as manager, lead by example.
Insulate Against Small Errors
In a small-medium business a small mistake can have a big impact. This is especially so when the small business services a particular locality. When your good reputation is endangered, rightly or wrongly, so is the business. Large businesses are far less susceptible to small threats. They have ample resources to correct errors and retrieve disgruntled customers. Small business can’t match these resources. Make staff aware of the danger of small errors.
Effective communication develops informed employees. Informed staff can make informed decisions, take informed choices, provide soundly based communication and make informed contributions at meetings and discussions. Eliminate “I didn’t know” as a possible employee response. Finally, bear in mind: if they don’t know, they’ll guess or shrug their shoulders. Neither reaction helps your small-medium business.