By Kate Rabe
Communications and processes are two terms many business owners cringe at when asked how they would rate these in their organization. What is it about these words that makes people so uncomfortable? Is it the idea of having to take the time to write it all out? Some even feel since their business has made it this far why do they need to make any changes now?
Do these topics have just as much importance as departments in a business such as accounting, purchasing, and marketing? When looking to grow or expand a business, these are typically the first places people look to make changes. If one knows what is working and what did not work the previous year, does it not become easier to set goals to visualize the desired growth for the year to come? Without goals, things may begin to fall short.
What if communication and processes were looked at in the sense of attempting to achieve operational greatness? This means taking a proactive approach to make continual improvements within the company to have an advantage over competitors, but many business owners do not take the time to do this. However, by being proactive, it will not only assist with clear and effective communication from the top down and across all lines, but also help develop systems that enable employees to fix problems as soon as they arise.
Where to begin?
A good place to start is by looking at the business’s day-to-day operations. For instance, employees are hired to take some of the workload off of the business owner. With this being the case, one of the last things one wants to become is a micro-manager. An owner’s most efficient days are ones where he/she does not need to be present on every jobsite or on every phone call.
Owners want employees who are able to properly assess the task at hand and come up with a solution at any given time. Having a process in place for each of these scenarios is important to not only ensure the business runs smoothly, but also allows the owner to concentrate on the higher ticket items that require more time and energy.
Before one can begin to write the process, they have to be sure they have the right employees in the appropriate roles. Even more important is ensuring each employee understands his/her role and responsibility within the company.
In a perfect world, this author can assume everyone reading this article has a job description written for every employee in the company, themselves included. And, they share an up-to-date organizational chart with everyone, too. In reality, this is not typically what this author sees. Yet, this is such an important tool when it comes to overseeing operations and communication in the business. Without it, what guidelines are being followed to make sure everyone is on the same page?
When writing job descriptions, be sure to include specific job duties (e.g. what is expected from a particular employee on a daily basis), but avoid anything too general. From a communication standpoint, a detailed list should be compiled of what that job performance looks like so an employee can perform well or, if they need to, focus more on a certain area. The job description should also include what tasks are expected to be completed as well as milestones to be reached and what the timeframe looks like.
Once the job descriptions have been written, it is important to relay how communication will take place. A clearly planned organizational chart works as a vital tool in an organization to implement structure. This is particularly important when looking to grow the business. Having a formal structure from the beginning helps a company achieve growth through efficiency while also providing a clearly outlined communication process that improves the overall management of the business.
Every business benefits from having a clear structure of how each employee’s role works towards achieving the business’s overall objectives and goals. Having the ability to look at a chart provides a visual means of communication. This is particularly important if a company has various departments that are all working towards a common goal as it helps to avoid duplicate efforts and can also prevent co-workers from becoming frustrated with one another.
On several occasions, this author has seen instances where various departments were all contributing to achieve one goal but the responsibilities were not clearly defined. As a result, productivity decreased as employees started to feel their contribution did not matter, so why put forth the energy? By clearly communicating how different individuals or departments are related to one another and how each will contribute helps achieve greater growth by avoiding unnecessary conflicts.
Organizational charts also help one to recognize gaps in the company’s structure. Having this visual helps to see where there might be a break in the lines of communication or where a clear outline of how each employee will help contribute to the big picture does not exist. This will also help managers write better job descriptions that include duties that crossover departments and quickly fill those needs. A good organizational chart will help evaluate performance and measure growth within the organization.