October 25, 2011

You Should Over-Communicate with Your Employees

By Paul Bieber

“You have two ears and one mouth, so you should listen twice as much as you talk.” An old and still very true saying. But communicating is different than talking. In your role as a business manager or leader, communicating with people you work with is essential.

Sure, you see them every day, handing out work assignments and doing paperwork. You even ask how their kid’s Little League games are going. But this isn’t communicating about the business and their role in its success. Each Monday morning you should have a ten minute meeting with the people you are responsible for. Not formal, not a classroom type presentation; schedule around the coffee pot or out at the cutting table. Start out with three minutes having one person talk about something they did well; a project that came in time and on budget; an installation that went well, or a manufacturing goal that was exceeded. Then take a minute to translate that into how this success can be achieved in another department or by another person.

The next three minutes become a quick description of a new item the company is handling, a product update, a technical point or any company news that your staff should know. It may even be that Molly had her baby and everyone is healthy.

Close up with a couple of minutes of questions from your team. If the questions require a long answer, write the answers out and distribute them at the end of the day. Some questions can’t be answered, and it is OK to say that, or that you will answer that question privately.

A ten-minuter like this, weekly, will keep people informed and motivated. They won’t feel like they are left out, which causes poor performance in any company.

The group should be no more than eight people. If you supervise more, split into two groups, do one in the morning, and one in the afternoon, before the end of the day. You will find employees look forward to this and after a couple of weeks will come prepared with their success stories and their questions! When this happens, they will feel a greater sense of being on the company team.

Next week we will discuss other communications tools for employees and managers.