There’s a tremendous amount of stress today on organizations to communicate well. The pace of change continues to escalate, putting pressure on people and teams to move the right information quickly, accurately, clearly and in multiple directions.
Earlier this year, I discussed how we addressed a client’s poor performance using two different solutions. One was open book management. The other was a focused employee engagement process.
The result was incredible improvements in safety, on-time delivery, total cycle time, productivity and cost savings with a 1,148 percent return on investment. Not bad! Also, not uncommon when communication is managed poorly, then quickly fixed using reliable solutions.
Communication is driven by leaders—what they say and do—and by systems such as rewards, work processes and measurement and by formal channels such as town hall meetings, intranets and social media.
Social media can be both a help and a hindrance. It helps by moving information quickly in multi-directions. It can hinder by skimming coldly and vaguely across the organizational surface, not stopping to bring clarity and meaning to people who are responsible for producing results rather than just activity.
The employee engagement process we used was one that I helped create with a team at Towers Perrin. It includes four components, which I’ve discussed in detail over the past four Leadership Report issues:
- Create line of sight between what people do and the results they can influence;
- Provide autonomy and involvement or the ability to made decisions that influence results;
- Distribute information needed for people to perform at their peak, namely context, vision and strategy, linkage, role and support; and
- Make it clear why it’s in all of our interests to succeed—what’s in it for me or WIIFM.
Engagement needs to be directed. You don’t just engage people and walk away. Your goal isn’t to improve engagement scores. Your goal is to improve critical numbers similar to the ones above BY ENGAGING PEOPLE TO IMPROVE THOSE RESULTS. Deciding what you need or want to improve always comes first; e.g., quality, service delivery, costs. Then direct your engagement efforts at improving the appropriate numbers.
Open book management operates within the engagement process with its fundamental philosophy of creating businesses of informed business people. It blends building business and financial acumen with elements of lean six sigma, then applying the process to the critical numbers.
In both cases, the first priority is to agree on the critical numbers that need improving. Then apply employee engagement and open book management processes in a way that makes those numbers move in the right direction.
Mix the two together—open book management and employee engagement—execute very well and you have one hell of a powerful cocktail sure to cure what ails you in the business world.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Blending employee engagement process with open book management and applying them to the same financial target is a powerful tool for leaders to use to get solid results.