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Deb Neuman Deb Neuman
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Keeping the engine of your business running

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I was driving to a meeting recently when my car decided to stop. When I tried to restart it, nothing happened. So I had Ms. Jetta towed to the dealer. My guys at Darlings started her right up (naturally)! But they knew I had a problem and performed diagnostics. Sure enough, the problem was with a relay sensor that had gone bad. They explained to me in terms I could understand that this led to a breakdown in communications with the engine. Bottom line: there was miscommunication going on under my hood that was causing my car to stop when I wanted it to go.   

 

They replaced the sensor and got us back on the road. This got me thinking about how easily systems can breakdown in our workplaces due to a lack of communication. We can all think back to workplaces where communication was the best and when it was the worst.   

A friend of mine was talking about her reasons for leaving a job. She left in part because the rules of her former workplace were constantly changing. Just when she thought she had the game figured out, and she was making the plays she was asked to make, someone changed the playbook without informing her about it. This led to a high level of frustration, which often led to work having to be re-done in turn leading to inefficiencies and a culture of 'why bother' when all her hard work would probably be a waste of time. Ultimately she felt that no matter how hard she worked, she would not be successful in that environment. She walked away.  

Good communication in the workplace and under the hood of your car is all about keeping the lines of communication open. Things change. That is to be expected. But if the engine of your business - your employees - aren't informed about it, they will stall. Eventually there will be a breakdown and they too will walk. When an employee completes an assignment, it is critically important that the boss do the following:

  1. Acknowledge that the work was done or received. 
  2. Let the employee know what will happen next (e.g., 'I will review and get back to you with comments in a few days').
  3. Let the employee know what they did well and where they might improve.
  4. Offer constructive suggestions for improvement don't be vague!
  5. Give the employee clear direction as to what should happen next 
    (e.g., 'Make these improvements and get it back to me by the end of the week')
  6. Offer encouragement and praise for a job well done and constructive advice to help them improve the next time.

The best bosses and managers are those who keep the lines of communication open and recognize that their employees are the engines that keep the workplace moving forward. Treat them well, communicate with them often and give them feedback on a regular basis. By doing so, you'll keep your business on the road to success with happy employees who will stick with you for many, many miles.

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