Part 6 of an 11-part blog series on the Rockefeller Habits for associations.
As an executive in your organization, you have a unique perspective on how it runs. If you consider your organization as a mountain, you are at the top, with a wide view of where your organization stands in comparison to the horizon. It’s an awesome view, for sure. But while you stand on the peak, there are lots of people on your team who don’t get the full view because they are too busy fighting off mountain lions and finding footholds to keep climbing.
Having levels of hierarchy in an organization is important. It allows you to delegate day-to-day operations so that you have the capacity to focus on higher level items. Senior executives are levels and levels removed from the ground floor, and often only receive information after it has been filtered through different perspectives. It also means you have less of that immersed perspective on the right now of your industry.
- What are the challenges a typical team member faces?
- What are the new ideas and concepts that represent the future of your industry?
- Who are the voices of impact that you should be listening to?
Right now is the time to make sure everyone in your organization has an open opportunity to provide input, share growth opportunities, and get that “big-picture” outlook that is so often reserved for those on top.
Are You Paying Attention to Culture Friction?
It may seem like a departure, but culture friction is at the heart of a lack of input and opportunity. Culture friction is what happens when you have cultural norms that are misaligned with what makes you successful.
A great example of this is found in the concept of transparency, which is a common cause of information blockages. You might think that transparency is something that you excel at because you consistently have team members who share information when asked. The issue is that this transparency is only reactive. You may not have systems in place that allow for and foster people to proactively share information even before others need it.
Consider these questions:
- How much time is wasted by your team because they are waiting on someone to give them information?
- How much time and money could be saved by having an easy flow of information from the executive level all the way down the line?
- How much more empowered would your team be if they could make decisions and execute plans based on the information that is readily available?
By eliminating communication frictions, you unlock a brand new level of success and flexibility in your organization. But this is not a “one-and-done” kind of fix. You must keep a finger to the pulse of your organization and be looking for any barriers and behaviors that might threaten to stunt the growth of these open communication channels.
How to Close the Loop
The secret to closing the loop between the day-to-day happenings in the workplace and the senior team is middle management. Your mid-level players are the liaisons that bring the organization’s communication together. Keeping these key individuals accessible to all team members ensures that issues within aren’t going unresolved and compounding. It also ensures that new and revolutionary findings aren’t going unheard for weeks or months at a time.
To integrate employee feedback into routine communication, consider adding Start/Stop/Keep Check-ins to the weekly agenda. In this strategy, leadership should set up individual check-ins each week with a different team member that allow for new ideas, a safe place to expose challenges, and opportunities to celebrate what’s working.
Informal. Maintain a relaxed atmosphere and ensure that the employee knows this is a safe place to share their input.
Weekly. Each week, interview a different employee with the goal of talking to everyone in your organization.
Simple. There are just three questions:
- What should we start? (New ideas and innovation)
- What should we stop? (Internal challenges, culture friction)
- What should we keep? (What is going well, and makes a positive impact on performance and culture)
Recorded. Take advantage of the meeting by writing down thoughts and ideas after each interview is over. This is a fantastic way to stay up-to-date with the culture climate and collect regular employee feedback.
Action-Based. The information you’ll get as a response is representative of the actual climate, concerns, and innovations your organization is building. Don’t just sit on this valuable input, take action! This not only improves your organization overall, but shows your employees that they are heard, valued, and that you are ready to make changes to create a more positive community.
Sharing the View
As you break down communication barriers and increase the flow of information amongst your team members, your organization will naturally become more flexible, innovative, and responsive. This is a great first step to building closer working relationships and uncovering hidden problems that you may not even know exist.
Most of all, you have an opportunity to share that mountain-top view with your employees in a way that they have possibly never known. And when they understand the power the organization has to do good—and their place in supporting those big-picture goals—they will be galvanized to be better, no matter where they stand.
PROPEL helps purpose-driven organizations build more effective communication models through individual and team business coaching. Find out more about our coaching sessions here.
Photo by Mike Lewis