How communication can fill in operational gaps
“Words should be used as tools of communication and not as a substitute for action. - Anonymous”
Communication is the basis of all human relationships. Whether it’s personal or professional, you just can't do without communication. In order to build a good relationship with your clients, suppliers or employees, effective communication is essential.
Most companies today are altering their business model, designing new products, moving to new channels and prepare for the future. As companies shift plans according to changing environments, they must take measures to eliminate the gap between strategy and execution, using effective communications.
Everyone in an organisation must understand the company’s strategy and more importantly should be aware of how their actions affect the strategy. A business must also have a mechanism where the strategy can be adjusted when an employee identifies a fundamental change in internal or external environment.
Let's look at few areas how communication can fill in the gap between business strategies and it’s day to day execution (operations) of that strategy.
A company’s objectives must be made visible and clear to all staff members; and corporate leaders must ensure that all employees will work in synergy to achieve them.
Sometimes senior executives tend to brush off strategy as “just words” or spend little time articulating their business objectives.However, it is their duty to assure that these words represent the company's intentions accurately, and it must be done in a manner that it is meaningful to every stakeholder.
In order to communicate business objectives clearly with rest of the staff, senior executives can use: Pathways and Strategy Plans.
With pathways, the overall goal of business, is broken down to priority based mini goals, which can be easily understood by others. Furthermore, it makes the job of senior executives easy; to drive and motivate staff towards achieving those mini goals at the right time rather than pushing them towards a vague overall goal over a long period of time.
Strategy plans are used to enhance pathways by providing employees with specific direction. Once pathways are defined, simple strategy plans are used to communicate with employees.These will show them how they can support the strategy and what actions are required from them to achieve mini goals which will ultimately lead to achieving overall corporate goals.
Every business has a set of core processes that are vital to its operations and provide guidance for all the activities that it undertakes to achieve its objectives.
These objectives must be made tangible to everyone in the organisation using effective communication. They should be translated into clear strategic and operational goals for every functional department and business unit to minimize the gaps.
Constant communication and updates are required to coordinate activities of different teams and departments to ensure that their collective operations/activities are contributing towards the strategic goals. Emails, reports, review meetings are some of the most commonly used communication channels to communicate with other individuals with the team and other teams.
The managers should ideally be taking measures to manage these communication processes and ensure they take place between right individuals/teams at the right time. After all it’s their job to manage the people and processes and keep everyone on track to achieving company’s corporate goals.
Monitoring and Measuring
Businesses should also consider how it will monitor the progress on a regular basis, once the strategies are defined, and operations are in place achieve the strategic goals. It requires a process of systematic measuring of performance and alerting stakeholders when there are obstacles, failures, leeways & successes and effectively communicating them with relevant teams and individuals.
When there are problems stakeholders can quickly respond to them, identify the bottlenecks and take corrective actions to conquer them in a timely manner. Also monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of operations assist the managers to identify what actions are working and what isn’t. Communication assists them to share the successful practices with other teams and allows them to share alternative action plans to implement when there are gaps between the operations and strategy, ultimately contributing to the achievement of overall business objectives.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable performance measures which can be used to explicitly monitor the gaps between strategic goals and actual operations.KPI reports and dashboards are very useful communication instruments to communicate deviations between the goals and operations with stakeholders. On the other hand meetings and suggestion forms are effective communication channels to receive feedback from employees.
In each of these areas, several styles of communication are adopted by organisations. It is inevitable that all these communication types occur in any organisation and let’s take a look at what they are and how they affect business communications.
Written or oral, takes place through channels such as reports, memos, scheduled meetings and interviews which follow the chain of command in an organisation. Communication flows from the manager to his immediate subordinates or vice versa. Each recipient re-transmits the message to the next level, as appropriate.
It is the ideal method to ensure that companies strategic goals are communicated with everyone and it’s transparent. Once documented all employees can be on the same page ensuring all their activities collectively contributes towards achieving overall business goal/s.
Supplements the formal communication as no organisation can solely operate on formal communication.These are the communication streams which have evolved outside the hierarchical structure and there is a fine line between using informal communication for business operations. Sometimes bypassing the chain of command can get the job done but can cause irritation and lead to hard feelings.
Rumors or the grapevines in a workplace, mostly arises when there is a lack of information which the employees think is important. These are not necessarily good or bad and sometimes serves as indicators of employee’s attitudes or feelings. However, the information which travels through rumors tends to become magnified and exaggerated. When false information is circulated, careful action should be taken to provide correct information immediately.
After all, sharing and communication of information help a company creating scalable, replicable processes that build a strong foundation for execution. When there is a common shared frame of reference for all employees, it empowers them to contribute effectively to organisational objectives, provides functional and individual accountability and increases transparency across all teams and business units. Only by properly aligning day-to-day operations with its overall strategy and effective communication processes and channels in place, a company can hope to execute its strategic goals effectively.
Created: August 19th, 2016