The short answer:
Yes! Yes! Yes!
Okay, that was a bit longer that I thought, but I can’t stress the importance of how communication affects morale, motivation and productivity. I don’t usually blog about my work any more as mainly I don’t have anything to gripe about (this is 50% to do with the company and 50% due to the mental change I’ve been through recently – I sense a post coming about that!) but this week I saw a department in the company come apart at the seams all down to a little bit of communication – or lack thereof.
When managers make decisions that affect other parts of the company, it’s vitally important to keep everyone affected in the loop. This week I saw three different managers go and make three different promises to the same clients – each at odds with each other – and then left the Help desk to take the flak.
As the Helpdesk is the first port of call for any customer enquiry that comes in, it’s extremely important they know what support that client can receive, if it’s billable or in their contract or if it’s a “freebie”. This week they were given each of those messages so neither they or the client knew what the Help desk was supposed to do about the problem. Eventually it took the Operations Director to sort the mess out – which could have been avoided at a very early stage.
Normally this wouldn’t have been too much of a problem but “blame” started to hit the fan; the Help desk was adamant it wasn’t their fault (which in my view it wasn’t as they were only going on the information they had); Manager #1 said it couldn’t be their fault as they had initially arranged it and Manager #2 was strangely absent.
So what to do?
1) Clearly define roles within the organisation:
Let your people know how much leeway they have when it comes to making decisions. If they are given the freedom to make choices in their position then 90% of problems will be solved immediately. If they have no chance of making their own decisions, let them know where/who to escalate the problem too so the client knows they’re being dealt with and who to contact.
2) Let people know what promises you’ve made:
If you’ve promised Client A that the next visit will be free, let the person dealing with that client know! Sounds simple but it’s very effective.
3) Write it all down:
Some people don’t like the idea of a paper trail as that can get them into trouble. However it can keep you out of trouble too! If a manager asks you to do something, ask them to write it in an email (as a reminder of course), that way you have proof if they try to wheedle out of being responsible for their actions.
4) Clarify the situation:
If you’re not sure what someone means, then ask. It’s much better to appear stupid for 30 seconds rather than mess up an important deal because you weren’t 100% sure what someone meant
This is the most important point. If you’re a manager making a decision, ask your employees for their input. They’re the ones dealing with the clients day-to-day and know what they expect/need/want. If you’re an employee don’t be afraid to ask why management is making that decision – it may turn out that they haven’t thought it through and are doing it because it sounds good!
When people know what’s expected of them or what they’re due to get, whether that be a client or an employee, they feel happy and balanced. And this makes for a happy organisation.
I really think I can expand on this a bit more but I’d like to hear your thoughts – any tips or horror stories on communication you’d like to share?
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