Tactics for Small Business Management (yes, it’s a different approach)

7 Nov

Small companies have the ability to treat their employees with a higher level of respect, and to treat their people as part of a close family. The advantages of managing a small company are beyond those of a large company in the capacity to treat people differently based on their fundamental values. What I am getting at here is that small company managers can get to know their employees on a much more intimate basis, thus truly exploiting what they want from the organization and what they have to offer in return.

The beauty of the small company worker/manager relationship is that the relationship has the ability to take on a one on one form. This means that managers have some real face time with all their employees, not just a few minutes (which all managers should dedicate to employee relations), but some real time to get to know what their people want from the company. Once you validate what your employees are expecting to receive out of the work/compensation tradeoff, you can truly enforce the fact that their personal goals are only attainable through attention on organizational goals.

Ok, take a breath. Bottom line is that employees want something out of work, and managers in a small company have the ability to figure out what that is, not just on the surface, but on the most fundamental basis. The relationships that are fostered in small companies have the ability to be way more productive than those is large corporations where managers “just don’t have the time”.

A great article about relationships in small companies is shown: http://nationalhogfarmer.com/mag/farming_treat_employees_right/

  Read, Digest, and Think Critically!

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Tactics for Uniting Your Workforce

5 Nov

There is something to be said about a workforce united, working in synergy, sharing a common goal, believing in a shared vision. It is almost religious in its nature; it is the ability of humans to come together, in a professional setting, to work for a desired outcome. The unity that a shared belief, goal, outcome, end, etc. brings to a group has its basis in our biological nature, it is our being social creatures.

So where am I going with this? Let me explain, take that spark that people share when they work together and turn it into a roaring fire. Let your workforce become united through company sponsored events. Not just any event, like a company picnic where the CEO or plant manager struts around like he is the bull in the pasture, but events that o people can go to and relax, be creative and social with their fellow employees.

Events that will unite your work force are ones with no stress of the boss over your shoulder, take a back seat managers! Set up the event funds, open the planning to your entire workforce, and establish a few (just a few!) rules to follow while the employees partake, and let them be themselves around each other.

The big dogs in business do things of this nature think of Google. At Google you have ping pong tables and video games for lunch. I don’t advocate turning your office into an arcade, I’m saying set aside some funds on a bi-monthly basis, tell your employees they have an allowance to spend on fun events they can partake in together, and let them do their thing.

This will put faces to names in your company, help your employees get to know each other, cut down on interpersonal conflict, and provide the personal / professional relationships amongst your employees the fuel they need. Try it out!

Managerial Tactics for Grapevine Communications

2 Nov

I have been covering managerial tactics for communications improvement through multiple different channels up to now. It has been a fun ride, but with all fun rides we end at Disneyland, our Disneyland is the grapevine communication channel. The grapevine is the water cooler, the over the top of the cubical talk, and the chit-chat that sends company information and news flying off the hook. This channel is ever-present, in every office, around the world. This will never disappear, and any attempt to stop it will only mean disaster for the manager who tries. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change the way your organization deals with it.

The basis of the grapevine is that everyone is able to infuse their own opinion into what is going on in the company. This means someone hears news about the company, and brings it to the attention of a coworker, in an attempt to express their opinion about what is going on in their organization. We have all done it, so don’t raise your nose at it!

What can be done about it is, you can give employees a voice in your organization and add validity to what they have to say. You can open up to the fact that your employees need to know what is going on, and have an opinion about it. Trying to fight the very fact that employees are talking about work is a bad idea, they spend upwards of 40 hours per week there, and think about it you want them thinking and talking ABOUT WORK while they are AT WORK.

The thing you as a manager should be concerned with is employees disseminating false or malicious information. This is where a great manager needs to spring into action. What can be done in this situation is that you can send out an email dispelling rumors, and correcting any wrong information that employees might be hearing. And if you know that you are working on something that will leek to your employees, be proactive. Don’t play catch up with the grapevine, be ahead of it.

A good manager has their ear to the grapevine at all times. Listening to what their employees are saying, correcting distorted information, and dispelling rumors. The manager that doesn’t, and is trying to kill the grapevine, is essentially turning their back on a free employee sentiment driven tool.

Management Tactics for Improving Interdepartmental Lateral Communications

31 Oct

Continuing with the discussion on improving the dissemination of company news and information within a company, we come to the communication Channel that I affectionately call interdepartmental lateral communication. Wow, big name, what this means is communications between individuals on the same pay grade in different departments.

This is where the most distortion in communications can occur. Some of the reasons for messages getting distorted when traveling across this channel are that different departments use different jargon, have animosity, don’t respect one another, and can often have no idea how the other departments contribute to the businesses bottom line.

To clear these problems up, I suggest having a training session by a paid communications expert, or having online training sessions in communications. This will have the quick impact of clearer communications, but you are still left with the problem of indifference between departments.

When fixing this problem you need to take into consideration that all the departments in your organization need to work in synergy to complete countless objectives on a daily basis. Knowing this is half the battle, the other half knows what it costs when they don’t. To give you an idea what the cost is, have a look at this site: http://contactpointassoc.com/Pdfs/CComm-CostofMiscom.pdf . Miscommunication gets very expensive, very fast!

To cut down on this error, a manager can institute a mandatory secondary line of communication. What I mean by this is that if an employee in payroll has a misunderstanding in communication with an employee in human resources while communicating through email, they will have to go to a secondary line of communication such as phone and in person.

Try these recommendation, they will pay off! Some of these may seem familiar, but the last recommendation is one of my very own. I hope someone finds validity in it, and even puts it into action, and reaps the ROI of clearer interdepartmental lateral communications.

Managerial Tactics for Improving Lateral Communications

29 Oct

The need for lateral communication, between employees of the same pay grade and in the same department, is pivotal for the administration of business. The management at a firm can increase the effectiveness of lateral communication through many different actions. A few of which I would like to describe.

On occasion you might hear about the effectiveness of social networks, and how they help to keep in contact with your grandma and friends. This is one of the biggest ways communication is changing, and can bring great benefits to lateral communications in a company. Development of digital social networks for use in lateral communications will allow employees to not only discuss trends, applications of solutions, and business matters, but give them a sense of connectedness that will promote workforce cohesiveness.

Another managerial tactic that can improve lateral communications is having luncheons for specific departments. If you have an annual luncheon for your logistics workers, workers of the same pay grade and position in the company, you can foster some good working relationships between your employees. They can add faces to the voices they talk to over the phone, and voices to the people they communicate with through email every day.

The main idea here is to build communication lines between employees of the same level. Doing so will foster some healthy working relationships, allow employees to collaborate on problem solving, and grow a feeling of connection with and within your company. This is sure to have a positive effect on the bottom line, and bring about clearer and more concise communications between your employees, both on the same level and throughout the organization.

Managerial Tactics for Downstream Communications

26 Oct

In my last post I started to discuss the different channels of communication in a company. I would like to again stress the importance of these channels. They are the backbone of business, facilitating the dissemination of information amongst employees in all companies. I would like to dig a little deeper into these communication channels and take a look at how contemporary business practices have differed from the status quo. And to examine how the evolution of managerial tactics has increased communication effectiveness and efficiency.

To start the discussion, I wanted to examine the ways companies have historically disseminated information from the executive and management level to the subordinate level. Historically companies have had a one way approach (this is how we see it, this is how you will deal with it, and that’s just how it is). This approach was efficient at the time, but lead to the development of union (groups of employees that gathered together to have a collective voice) because the employees at the subordinate level were being, well, subordinated.

Employees at this level need to know that they have an opinion, know their niche in the company, and have something to offer up the communications pipeline. I understand that CEO’s have a lot to do, and they can’t sit around answering every email requesting pointless solutions to superfluous problems. But employees can be informed that they have the right in your firm to offer an opinion, suggest a solution to a problem, and be part of the company at all levels.

Allowing upstream communication, which many firms do now, empowers employees and leads to them feeling like they have a stake in operations at all levels, even the top. Now, I understand that as an executive you don’t have time to answer all questions, suggestions, and etcetera. The key to making this work for executives (perk being increased employee productivity) and the employee (perk being intrinsic motivation) is to, as upper management, send these messages back out to the respective departments that handle the issues addressed in them.

This will open the employees’ suggestions up to peer review and scrutinizing. By doing this, upper management doesn’t have to deal with each message they receive, and employees can get their voice heard by the department that handles their issue or suggestion, with the added validity of having someone in upper management forwarding their communications. This process is solid, give it a try, I know it works.

Disseminating Company News and Information

21 Oct

The spread of company news and information amongst its employees is a vital part of any firm. The benefits of each individual in a company knowing what is going on in the company currently and what is coming up in the future is a vital part of any industry.

Keeping employees up to date on what’s going on in the company doesn’t always present itself as the primary objective of managers and executives, so information spread throughout the company can find many channels for dissemination. The fact of the matter is that these channels are the inner communication network in a company and are vital to its operations.

A few of these channels are downstream communication (from executive/management to lower employees), lateral communication (amongst employees in the same department, of the same pay grade), interdepartmental lateral communication (amongst employees in different departments but of the same pay grade), and the ever-present grapevine.

Each of these different communication pathways presents its own challenges and benefits when it comes to spreading information throughout the company; thus each deserves attention. The analysis of each of these communication pathways and evolution of these pathways through changing business environments deserves analysis and study in attempt to understand the impact that the current business climate in this country has on each.

 In the postings to come I plan to dive into each of these communication pathways and examine the way they have been impacted by the current state of business in the economy. And to examine ways in which contemporary managerial tactics, as opposed to customary managerial tactics, can help move information throughout a company with accuracy, clarity, and ease.