Recent SWOT (Strength/Weakness/Opportunity/Threat) analysis at Willmar Electric told the leaders several things. Most notably, communication is essential.
Not really a news flash. If you didn’t already know the importance of communication, you likely are part of a poorly run business or frustrating marriage.
We got similar feedback doing the annual coworker evaluations. The feedback came to on both the positive and negative side of the ledger.
So, we decided to dig deeper. Because communication comes in many forms and in many different types of situations.
When communication was cited as a positive, we followed up by asking the people who said we have good communication what they meant? We have been told:
- People feel free to talk to anybody at any level about anything.
- People feel they can call the CEO at any time.
- People know what is expected of them.
- Transfers from one project to another are known in advance.
Glad they noticed. Glad people had concrete examples. We do try to communicate well and think we have made improvements over the years.
When a negative issue was cited, we followed up to determine if the person had a specific situation in mind. For example, we got all involved people failing to pass along information others needed to carry out their job responsibilities.
The common thread between excellent and poor communication at Willmar Electric was also treating people how they would want to be treated. Which if you know Willmar Electric at all ties back directly to our core values.
Good communication is making sure we share with each other what the other person needs to know. Pretty simple. We don’t need to do a complex study. We don’t need to come up with a fancy program to improve our communication. We just need to follow up with people who notice a shortcoming and address each particular shortcoming.
What a relief.
It is rare to hear of an organization that doesn’t believe they need to improve communication. We are glad we took the time to ask follow-up questions before starting a new program designed to improve a generic and broadly defined communication issue. Instead, we cleaned up 6 minor issues and saved a lot of time.
It was encouraging to hear people say we are communicating well since we try so hard. We will continue to look for ways to improve our communication.