Good Communication First

I do consistently find myself in awe of technology. Through technology, we have turned the oven into the microwave, the telephone into the fax & cell phone, & the radio into an I-Pod.

But there just isn’t a good substitute for plain old communication. People like to feel needed. They like to know their opinions are valued. It makes them feel like their contributions are worthy. And there is no better place for communicating a person’s worthiness than the work place. As a CEO or business owner, one of your key roles is to facilitate business communication.

In one company I was with I took the employees to lunch in small groups. I sat in front of a spreadsheet & checkbook, compiled market and industry data, or reviewed operational performance metrics (I was the CFO and head of strategy) most of the day so it was important for me to make real contact with our staff. I wanted to pick their brains, hear their opinions, and get their thoughts first hand. I didn’t want them to know me only by the signature on their pay-checks. And since I was also in charge of strategy, my belief is you sometimes get the best input from going straight to the source. (Something I learned early on in my initial career as engineer.)

They made excellent suggestions. Some I wouldn’t have thought interested them… like MORE meetings! What?! Who would have thought employees would want more meetings?! But they did & their reasoning was not unfounded: they thought meeting as a team a couple of times a month would facilitate communication. This was that company’s year to streamline communication so I was on board with communication facilitation and was thrilled the staff was too!

So, yes, we could all log into a video conference call & chat remotely from our homes, but it wouldn’t come close to the face to face interaction. Human contact & interaction builds relationships & strengthens the team.

I’m a numbers person. Remember, I started my career down in the details. But I’ve also been responsible for strategy for quite some time. If I create great strategy & don’t get the team’s buy-in, I’m proving I’m smart but highly ineffective. I need to consider other’s ideas and incorporate them into that strategy. Sometimes as a member of the executive management team, it’s hard for people to come to see me so I go to them. As a business owner, the same applies to you.

It’s important that I keep my pulse on what’s happening with the staff members, get crucial feedback & input from them, & use it to make the technology induced workplace a successful people place too.

So remember, if you want to increase employee morale, make sure you put in processes and actions that  help you facilitate business communication. This could be a weekly scheduled coffee or lunch with an employee or group of employees, an anonymous employee survey  that you send out quarterly, an open-door policy where you make employees feel welcome when they come in…  And although I’m not discussing it here, your role in facilitating business communication also applies to suppliers, customers, lenders, investors, and other stakeholders. But if you start with your employees, they often can help you with the rest.

Until next time . . .