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On Employee Communication: Keeping Things Fluid - Complex Machines Need Fluid To Keep Them Working Well Together

  • Keeping Things Fluid: Complex Machines Need Fluid To Keep Them Working Well Together

A robust employee communication system provides the fluid that keeps all the moving parts of a business from seizing up. The real question becomes, can you afford not to have one?

This afternoon, I went to get a simple oil change for my old car. I always pay the extra for synthetic oil, since it's far more effective. What I came away with was a bill for $300. The bill was high because I also needed transmission oil, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and a few other less critical fluids, in addition to the engine oil itself.

Presented with a checklist, I was stunned by how many fluids a modern automobile uses. The owner of the place explained to me that modern engines have a lot more moving parts, so they need a lot of lubrication to keep them working well.

I was happy to pay the money. Because the collector’s edition of this vehicle is important to me, it made sense to pay the extra cost to keep everything running smoothly.

Keeping Things Fluid: Complex Machines Need Fluid to Keep Them Working Well Together

How long would you be prepared to go without changing the oil in your car's engine?

What occurred to me was how complex work environments have become during the course of a single generation. When I first started working, there was no Internet (not a public one, anyway), no email, Wi-fi, touch-screens, ATMs, or GPS. In the workplace, there are so many new pieces of technology, each designed to make the organization more efficient, productive and profitable, but each piece adds to workplace complexity. Employees no longer work in isolated silos. They must work together to make the complex machine they work in — and on — function smoothly. And what is the 'lubricant' for making employees work together smoothly? Communication.

Replacing a car's transmission is an expensive project, even leaving aside the risk of an untimely breakdown or damage to other parts of the car. Changing the transmission fluid is a tiny cost compared to that expense. Transmission fluid and engine oil are the two best investments you can make in a car with a few miles on the clock.

The return on investment from an internal communications solution is of comparable magnitude. People ask me, Can I afford one? The real question becomes, therefore, can you afford not to have one?

A dealership can have excellent products, a banner sales team, and an excellent accounting staff, but it may all come to naught if front line staff is not getting the information they need to do their job to the fullest. An internal communication solution — not just email and text messages — makes all the intricate moving parts of the dealerhsip work well together. Nothing overheats, burns out or seizes up.

When you drive in your car today, consider how long it might last if you decided to ignore oil changes. In the short run, you'll save a few bucks. In the long run, however, you'll be stranded on the side of the road.


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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