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Champions of Excellence: One Company's Dedication To Their Internal Communications

  • Champions of Excellence: One Company's Dedication To Their Internal Communications

A local Minnesota company implemented a few simple internal communication practices and saw a twenty percent jump in employee engagement.

A stand-up meeting has the benefits of keeping people more active, keeping the meeting shorter, and it improves the chances people will remember what they heard.

I just met with a great individual who is in charge of business development for an accounting firm in the region. They have a BHAG, I was told, – a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (per Jim Collins in his best selling publication Good to Great) to be the top firm in the state in just a few years. He was sharing the insights they gained by doing an engagement survey. They learned that their associates are greatly affected by knowing how they make a difference to the firm, as well as knowing what difference the firm makes in the community.

Since that epiphany, the firm’s leadership team has gotten serious about how they communicate internally. My contact went on to explain that they have instituted several initiatives, for instance:

  • 10-minute stand up meetings every other week,
  • Supervisor weekly chats with each employee to ask these three simple questions and open dialogue:
    • What are you currently working on?
    • In which areas of your work would you benefit from extra support?
    • Is there something I can offer you help with right away?
  • Twice a year town hall meetings.
  • Implementation of SharePoint as an internal communication tool.

They have established four key areas that drive their strategic initiatives and growth. When they communicate, they tie all messaging back to at least one of the four – to gain consistency and alignment.

He noted that since they amped up their internal communications, the total overall engagement score for the firm went up by 20 points. Wow! That is huge, considering the few simple steps they took.

On the heels of their great strides forward, here are a few more key areas to be considered as any company may travel the path to a culture of high organizational performance:

  • Measure your communications. Make no assumptions that just because you are sending information out in a variety of ways that it is being received.
  • Increase the frequency of sharing the metrics. You need to share performance metrics frequently in order to change behavior. It’s like the fact that I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday. If I only see a financial metric, for instance once a month, I won’t be able to affect a different outcome because I don’t recall the impact of that metric. More frequent sharing of metrics increases the chances of behavioral change.
  • Consider the cost of all internal communications systems and the total investment impacts. For instance, if the communication is still not engaging employees and retention remains stubbornly high, the leadership team should recall the fact that it takes 200% of an annual salary to replace a typical highly skilled worker.  Balance that against investing in a communications system like PDP that brings together all the necessary principals to highly effective internal communications, and you are likely saving money. That's not even counting the value of increased product and service quality, positive effects on colleagues, and so on.

Overall, I congratulate this individual and the firm for their truly sincere efforts to improve their internal communications. They are light years ahead of many organizations and will reap the benefit through higher levels of engagement, lower turnover, higher client satisfaction rates, and greater profitability among others.

 

Tom McQueen is PDP's automotive industry expert and has consulted with over 400 dealerships on performance improvement and employee engagement.

 

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