It’s 9 a.m. – do you know where your employees are?
Working in a large corporation and trying to balance multiple tasks means that certain items go unnoticed or are tucked quietly away. The organization is so large, in fact, that information about one product is explained in various ways by a variety of employees because that is the information they have been given. And they often don’t know what one branch is doing versus another.
There are gaps in the communication because the lines are not solid.
For example, a consumer might contact a company’s division for a product and are given the basics – what it is and how much it costs. That same consumer might call a different division of the company and is given altered explanations as to what the product is and how much it costs. When various responses are thrown about, the consumer concludes that the company is unorganized.
Is that your company?
A common complaint among employees (and consumers for that matter) is that explanations are not in sync. The employees of a company are not on the “same page,” so to speak, as their managers or headquarters. The managers don’t communicate and that causes employees to simply show up at work, do their assignments, and go home. They don’t understand how what they do affects the entire organization as a whole. Employees are unclear of their goals.
What does your company represent? Who is your target market? How can you engage your employees so they understand they are a part of something bigger?
If you really want to know “where your employees are” – mentally and psychologically – you need to start asking questions.
Do my employees understand our culture?
When you have a solid understanding of your company’s culture, you need to convey this to your employees. It is often ingrained in them when they first come on board, but does a 10-year veteran of the company still have a solid grasp of the culture? Have employees seen that demonstrated by management? Have they seen it displayed when doing business?
Be certain your culture is conveyed often. We all need reminders and it can only help to make sure your foundation remains solid with a firm belief from your employees. When you first hired them, it’s likely you sought out ones who would display your culture well. Continue to instill that passion in them and that understanding so it remains at the forefront of their decisions.
Do my employees know how what they are doing contributes to the overall purpose of the company?
Ask your employees what is on their schedule. Understand what projects they are tackling. Have them explain why those projects are important to them, to the consumer, and to the company. Ask them if they see how what they are doing contributes to the goals of the company. Get them to outline the steps involved. What do they envision as the ultimate result?
The more you have your employees talk to you about their projects, the more you’ll be able to find out if there are gaps that need to be filled. If they are running into challenges that need to be addressed, you can help them overcome these early in the process. But it will also help you see how much they appreciate the tasks they’ve been assigned and if they are the right fit for those tasks.
What are the goals of the company?
You need to make sure your employees understand where they are and where they’re going. They may have given you great responses during the interview, but their actions will prove if what came out of their mouth is solid or fluff.
Ask them to tell you, in their own words, what they believe are the company’s goals. Do they have ideas of how to reach them? Do they understand, again, how their tasks fit in with your purpose? Do they have other ideas that might help the company reach those goals?
The more you are able to get your team to talk about the company’s objectives, the more they understand it themselves and can think about those goals as they manage daily affairs. Help them keep your aim in mind just as you would the company culture.
Can they explain our products, services, pricing and policies?
Although this should be simple, it’s one of the hardest to explain. Why is that? It’s because products and services change. You especially run into this with companies who churn out products quickly. They are trying to keep the consumer constantly buying, so they “improve” what they have, offer additional features, offer new products, etc.
A breakdown in communication happens here because often employees are the last to know. Because of legal ramifications, ideas potentially stolen, etc., a company will keep hush until the product is released to the public and at the same time, their employees. Employees scramble to learn about the product, read the memo on pricing, and then answer the phone.
Make sure your team has the same information as a different team in another part of the world. Miscommunication is often a culprit of employees walking out the door. Consumers become angry because each employee they speak with, sometimes in the same department, tells them something different.
Have your employees explain to you the benefits and features of your products. Let them use them if applicable. Make sure they understand the pricing. If pricing changes, be certain they have the same understanding and same script as all their counterparts. Don’t keep the information on your desk until you’re ready to share it. That leads to lack of trust in management.
Do employees know all the services your company offers? Ask them. Then have them explain them to you.
What about policies? Some companies have a book of policies with more added. Don’t just hand them a book – communicate policies piecemeal in language a fifth grader can understand. Highlight examples if possible.
Disregarding policies will cost them their job and we know ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse. Policies need to be communicated on a regular basis in a way that doesn’t mean shoving it down their throats. Communicate these policies in a creative way, such as the company newsletter. But in between that, if you see an employee teetering on a policy breaking line, step in and help that employee before it escalates.
Around the world
You want to make sure that no matter how large your organization is that everyone will respond the same. Granted, this is more challenging if your company is spread out in different parts of the world because communication lines are different in certain countries. Words and phrases mean diverse things depending on your environment. However, the foundation should remain in tact. What do you stand for that can easily be explained in any culture?
Your goal is to make sure that no matter where in the world you visit your company that anyone there can answer your questions. Everyone needs to be taught the same things about your organization. This helps them really feel part of a team. Their confidence solidifies. They feel good about what you stand for. They know they represent your culture in a positive way.
All of this needs to be communicated on a regular basis. The more you know and understand what we’ve discussed, the easier it will be for you to help your team.
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