Recently Boost Midwest worked with a leadership team of a small company that designed inventory tracking software for retail stores that sent out an email memo to its fifty employees. The reason was to introduce revised guidelines on submitting bugs in the software to the engineering team.
The company had always encouraged employees of all levels to test beta software and submit tickets to the quality assurance team for any glitches found. Now, that information was to be sent directly to the project manager responsible for that specific piece of the software.
While this change seemed simple and clear to the leadership team, the response ranged from general confusion to outrage from the QA team. So a basic process change ended up causing internal turmoil, negatively affecting morale and productivity.
Excellent communication skills are crucial to success in business operations. And Boost Midwest works to find simplified communication changes that can have a rippling effect throughout an entire organization.
Employee morale, client satisfaction and people dynamics can be turned into a smooth transition, and efficiency will soon follow.
“Communication is often the most difficult piece,” Boost Midwest President Marie Stacks noted at a recent presentation at the ATD Annual Conference. “Simple is better, but it’s often a lot harder to accomplish.”
It’s at times of growth that a clear process of communication can have the most positive effect on operations. So, Boost Midwest developed its AIM Methodology — Analyze, Innovate & Manage — to help address the growth gap across an organization. The Mini-Operations Audit & Workshop utilizes the AIM method to assess organizational structure, operations optimization, team dynamics and communication.
And while these four areas of an organization often overlap, communication may be the one area that overlaps the most.
For this software company, leadership felt their memo introducing a one-step process change could not have been simpler. But it was not a one-step change for all teams, they discovered. And they did not include a valuable piece of information that team members needed to hear — why the change was being implemented.
“Growth happens in some of the hardest and most difficult points of our lives, and it’s not different in business,” Ms. Stacks noted.
Here, the reason behind the change was a recent increase in new clients that would also mean a big uptick in the volume of bug reports. But since leadership didn’t inform its employees of this uplifting company news, many felt it was an arbitrary decision that laid an extra task on the desks of project managers and stole autonomy and authority from the Quality Assurance team.
For leadership, not only what they say is important, but equally important is how they say it, who is involved in the conversation and the information they include in the communication. This is most true at times of change and crisis, according to the Harvard Business Review:
“Clear communication is more important and more difficult than when things seem normal. Employees and customers are hungry for information, so we’re tempted to pull together presentations and communicate with urgency instead of with careful planning. But if we present without addressing our audience’s core questions of what, how, and why, we’ll sow more confusion than we bring clarity.”
Of course, leadership is responsible for only a portion of internal and external communication for an organization. The Boost Midwest Mini-Operations Audit & Workshop addresses not only how teams and departments communicate internally and with clients but also the tools used to communicate.
“When we first stepped in, it was not just the tense aspect of it, it was also how defensive everybody became,” Stacks related. The meetings showed no camaraderie or support but plenty of finger pointing, she discovered.
The agenda change that Boost Midwest implemented trimmed a two-hour meeting to 45 minutes and transformed it into a collaboration. (We actually came in and ran two meetings with the new agenda we crafted.)
This one change resulted in a $100,000 billable opportunity gain.
“Sometimes the hardest part is actually visualizing what that picture of change is,” Ms. Stacks concluded. “That’s where someone external can potentially help your team significantly because they can come in and really demonstrate what that really looks like.”
See how Boost Midwest can help your organization not just survive but during times times of growth and change with our Free Mini-Operations Audit & Workshop.
Schedule your free Mini-Operations Audit & Workshop to learn more about how Boost Midwest can collaborate in optimizing your operations to elevate results.