Listen up!

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:28 pm

Companies that fully leverage the intellectual capital of their staff must develop and nurture a culture in which communication and teamwork are highly valued.
Every business goes through seasons of change and challenge. Seasonal changes come from growth, contraction, new competition, technological advances, internal challenges, economic factors and more.
Successful companies navigate through these changes and challenges by harnessing the experience and wisdom of their team members.
To fully leverage the team’s intellectual capital, a company’s communication processes must be finely tuned.
A company’s financial success is directly tied to its ability to communicate effectively throughout all of its departments.
Creating that communication process is a challenge for many companies. Notice that we are talking about process. So many companies focus on process improvement, while missing one of the most important processes of all – the process of communication and teamwork.
Let’s find out how your company rates with regards to communication and teamwork. Rate your organization’s current culture of communication and teamwork by answering the following questions. Respond with one of the following answers (consistently, sometimes, seldom).
1) The strategic and operational plan is clearly communicated throughout all departments within the organization.
2) Participation in the planning process occurs at all levels of the organization.
3) All employees understand the key business themes and how they link to customer satisfaction and competitive performance.
4) All team members have a clear understanding of the current year’s goals.
5) All team members receive on-going feedback regarding the progress of their work.
6) Teamwork, problem-solving and root cause analysis are very effective and part of a highly refined communication process.
7) All team members consistently find ways to increase earnings and cash flow.
8) Involvement of all employees in process design and improvement is a primary strategy for achieving employee enthusiasm and a self-directed workforce.
9) All employees understand their department’s plans, how they link to overall themes and how their individual and departmental performance contributes to the success of the business.
10) Barriers to implementation are uncovered early through cross-functional dialogue.
If your responses to these questions were on the less favorable side of things, it is probably an indication that barriers to communication exist within your organization. Not to worry. If the spirit is willing, here are some steps you can take to dramatically improve corporate communications, teamwork and performance.
Create critical dialogue
We don’t create barriers to communication on purpose. Because of the demands placed on us in a highly competitive world, we sometimes fall into the trap of making decisions and doing the work without fully communicating to the people around us. With underperforming companies, it is very common to find a culture of communication and teamwork that is less effective than it should or could be.
Meaningful involvement in making decisions that affect the success of an organization starts by creating critical dialogue within the team. This is the equivalent of sharing the challenge of growing, competing, inventing, and addressing company priorities.
This level of corporate and intellectual engagement is viewed by most associates as critical dialogue and a lot of fun. Daily production meetings, weekly team meetings, monthly financial review meetings, quarterly and annual corporate planning meetings are all the foundational underpinnings that support the creation of an enhanced corporate communications process.
Leadership development
Corporate communications should be viewed as a team (and management) development process. Everyone is learning from everyone else. It is extremely rare for an individual to participate in meaningful corporate communications and not grow or learn something new. The critical dialogue that occurs as part of this type of employee exchange serves to develop the leadership team.
Keep in mind, the leadership team extends beyond the management team. As managers, we need to always be mindful of the fact that we have leaders everywhere in our companies. You don’t need to be a manager to be a leader.
The best companies find ways to tap into and rely on the collective wisdom of their team. Team members truly have their fingers on the pulse of the company, the industry and the current economic trends.
Remember, true competitive advantages flow from an ability to tap into and leverage the intellectual capital on our teams. The companies that excel at this usually are the financial winners.
Philip Mydlach is owner of Mydlach Management Advisors, a corporate planning and performance improvement consulting practice in New Berlin. He can be reached at 262-785-5552 or

May 28, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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