If not, your goals and the strategy of the organization can’t be accomplished.
As an organization grows, especially one that grows rapidly, the flowing of information between leadership and employees becomes limited. When the organizations are smaller, information flows much more easily and freely from throughout the organization; leaders share more regularly and collaborate throughout the organization with those getting the work done. As the organization grows, however, and more layers are put in place, that sharing of information does not flow as well as it had in the past. There are a number of reasons for this, including:
- A lack of formal communication strategies in place within the organization
- Newer leadership (such as supervisors or managers) “holding” on to information as a way to remain powerful
- A lack of understanding of what can or should be shared
- An organization so focused on growth and moving forward that communication is no longer a priority
- An assumption that employees know what is going on
- A lack of understanding of the value of the knowledge that employees have – often due to the fact that they are closest to the customer
- No accountability for sharing of information and collaboration within the organization
The larger an organization becomes, the more essential it is that information is shared from the top down. The most effective was to ensure this happens is to make it part of the culture of the organization. An organization with a culture of communication and collaboration is more likely to ensure there is regular communication and sharing of information from the top down to all levels of employees and back up the ladder.
There is very little that can’t be shared throughout the organization. I am not proposing we share every little bit of information or break confidentialities. In particular, I am thinking in particular about sharing around strategy, organizational long-term goals and challenges faced by the organization as well as its employees.
When employees understand the strategy of the organization and its long-term goals, the organization is more likely to be able to achieve that strategy and those goals. Simply sharing the strategic plan is usually insufficient. Rather, organizations should enable for communication through having regular discussions between leaders and employees around goals and paths to achieve those goals. Challenges, too, need to be discussed and shared within the organization. Here is one example:
One of Abudi Consulting Group’s global clients regularly has leadership interact with employees via an internal website as well as via divisional and departmental meetings. To ensure this interaction takes place, on a bi-monthly basis, during an all-leaders meeting, the executives gather information from other leaders throughout the organization regarding:
- Challenges faced by employees
- Progress toward achieving goals
- Intelligence about the market and industry from those in the field/closest to the customer
To ensure consistency in gathering this information, each division and department head is tasked with sharing the following information as well as asking the following questions at monthly meetings with employees:
Sharing information on…
Gathering information about…
These monthly sessions provide employees with an outlet to share information and collaborate to discuss challenges and resolve problems. It is also a forum to understand how the organization is progressing toward strategic goals.
Additionally, on a quarterly basis, during the virtual all staff meetings, executives acknowledge the contributions by employees and share information about the organization overall. This time is also used to announce projects launched and being led by employees based on their input – such as innovation projects, continuous improvement projects and other initiatives launched based on input from employees.
An internal web site enables for regular and continuous collaboration and communication between leaders and employees. A component of leaders’ performance is based on collaboration with employees and engagement of employees. Additionally, a component of employees’ performance is based on collaboration and sharing throughout the organization.