One of the most serious barriers that a growing company faces is to resolve the problem of information flow – upwards, downwards, and sideways which is often grandly termed communication. This problem can cut in at a very early stage – Ibis staff have personal experience of dangerously limited communication in an enterprise of six individuals! As the effectiveness of communication declines, staff (and other stakeholders) become:
Less clear about what is expected of them;
Less sure about exactly what is going on throughout the company;
More suspicious of motives and less willing to accept change;
Poorer quality decision makers;
More likely to become departmentally rather than company minded with an emphasis on NIH (Not invented here);
More inward looking and more task orientated.
The combination of these factors means that policy implementation and task completion slows – or in the worst cases stops, labour turnover, absenteeism, disciplinary problems go up, productivity goes down.
Research suggests that most supervisory staff and management have a clear, but limited view of communication. This is to tell stakeholders what they (that is supervisors/ managers) want them to hear – and not to create a series of functional two way channels which improve reactivity within the enterprise, lead to much better decision making, and create enhanced shared values for all stakeholders. There is no single magic component – managers cannot wave a wand and say “let there be communication” – because a business is made up of a complex interaction of individuals both within and outside the enterprise, there are many communication channels, and effective communication will comprise their interaction. As with all Ibis suggestions, we see the creation of this improved communication system as incremental – companies can steadily introduce more and more components, ensure that they work, and then move on to others.
Some pointers to improved communication
All research shows that stakeholders like to be informed – they may not take in the information, but respond with trust to the enterprise that is trusting them with the information. A useful analogy is with Freedom of Information legislation – think about making communication inclusive rather than exclusive.
Individuals are very poor at separating wheat from chaff in information, which leads to information overload for some – unless the system is properly planned.
Individuals differ in the way that they take in information – some require voice (and individual contact), others require image while others prefer print.
The broader the range of communication channels, the better the overall information that individuals within the enterprise will receive..https://www.entreprise-sans-fautes.com/
Libraries have not evolved in the way they work by accident. Most of have an idea that relevant information existed and go looking for it. Make sure that the information is available in an organised and accessible way – a key feature of an effective management information system.
Few individuals take in all information at one presentation. The analogy to advertising messages is also relevant to information – each individual will require a minimum of messages to receive the underlying information.
Advertising has another lesson for communication – make sure that everything that is communicated is legal, decent and honest. You can sell anything once – to employees and other stakeholders – but once you have done this wrongly – your communication system will never be trusted again.
Commitment from the top, like all others aspects of company management is essential. Employees will become rapidly aware if senior management words are not linked to their deeds.
Changing from a disorganised to organised communication system
What must be accepted by the growing organisation is that the informal system of talking to colleagues across the table in the shared office will no longer work as more and more employees join the enterprise and the number of external stakeholders increase. Certain researchers refer to this as the “platform” – we see it as a steady movement away from resolving structural problems towards operational concerns.
Exactly when this will happen will vary, but it is clear that once the organisation passes beyond the point where the team leaders can maintain informal contact with all individuals on a daily basis, the enterprise needs to increasingly rely on a mixture of three different types of channel: