How To Benefit From Direct Communication Without Wasting Time by Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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There is simply no substitute for direct communication. Every business owner I know has experienced the frustration of a costly delay that only happened because someone down the command chain didn’t feel empowered to make a decision or an employee didn’t know who to bring it to. “If only they had asked me, I could have cleared this up in 10 seconds!” is a cry I have heard many times.

At the same time, incidents like these happen because the people at the top just don’t have the time to review every decision that happens in the organization. So, how do you strike a balance? How do you delegate without creating roadblocks? That’s something that I’ve been thinking about and working on throughout 2018, and these are some of the new practices I’m putting into place in 2019.

Give urgent decisions a straight path to the top.

The command chain is important, but it’s never as important as the agility of your organization. For that reason, let your people know that no important decision should wait on red tape or questions over a given manager’s “territory.” If something needs to move, the employee who knows what the problem is should have the freedom to take it straight to the top.

This can be a little more difficult than it sounds because it may require something of a cultural change at some organizations. You not only need to coax employees into acting on these priorities but may also have to ease tension from managers who feel like they’re not being respected to do their jobs when they’re skipped over on an urgent decision.

Help everyone understand, through both policy and personal coaching, that agility is one of the most important attributes of any company. When something moves quickly because no one is making the situation about them, it’s everyone’s victory.

Make sure that everyone sees a little bit of a reward when people stand aside to let an important decision go where it needs to. This can be something as simple as public recognition of both parties — the employee for having the initiative and the manager for properly nurturing the culture that allowed for more agility. Make note of who the supervisor is during these situations as well. It should come up in their performance review when they’re acting on your policy goals in good faith.

Have a written process for when decisions stall.

An improperly stalled decision is something that every employee needs to know they can act on. It’s not always clear what should be done when a decision stalls, so make sure you clarify things with a policy that spells out exactly what responsibilities employees have when they spot one.

There are several ways you can improve the agility of communication with just provisions of your policy. For example, place a time limit, such as 24 hours from the time the decision is needed, and obligate employees to move the decision up the ladder if it isn’t met.

As well, create a list of categories of decisions that need to move immediately and those that can wait to go through the normal process. A design decision is rarely ever going to a priority, but something like a spotted security vulnerability needs to be addressed immediately.

Finally, have a policy for updating the written process when something gets missed. There’s no better way to catch specific issues than to keep a record of the exact issues that have been missed before and to make sure the policy covers them in the future.

Implement them in your business today.

These measures can work for every company. You may find them more effective for certain areas of your company or even just certain projects. However, if you find that you have problems with breakdowns in communication that are causing delays, these strategies could work for you without creating new delays.

Because speed is important in any business, it’s necessary to both control the information that’s getting to you and make sure that nothing prevents important information from getting to you as quickly as possible.

March 4, 2019 at 09:15AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs