by: Rick Vipperman and Sherri Baldwin
COMMUNICATION has very little to do with tasks and everything to do with people or relationships. This measurement is all about, do we take time, from time to time, to leave our desk and reach out and connect with those that we work with let them know that we appreciate and have interest in them beyond just our work relationship? The reason we say, take time from time to time, is that this is not about quantity of time, it is about quality of time. We are all busy focusing on our individual jobs and it is hard to take time out to chat or visit other departments, and that is why quality matters. If only five minutes, make it real make it genuine!! And the best way to do that is, make it about them not us. It is their floor, their turn to talk, and our turn to listen. There is an added benefit to this type of connecting and engaging. We also build trust and loyalty. In any organization there is a formal and informal line of communication. The formal is what we receive through internal communications and emails. It is top-down, filtered information and all about protocol and diplomacy. The informal is the purest line of communication and comes only from interacting directly with employees and following-up on any issues. This interaction, when genuine and consistent, builds that trust, respect and loyalty. This is also an opportunity for us to demonstrate our leadership with our visibility and presence.
Herb Kelleher, Founder of Southwest Airline accomplished unprecedented success at Southwest. Under his leadership, the Airline recorded 46 consecutive profitable years. Kelleher also created a corporate culture that became the envy of the Airline industry, one of team unity and unwavering loyalty, created in part by Kelleher placing a priority on his frequent visits with all levels of the organization. His staff would often find his office empty. He was not there. Instead, he was in the “trenches” where reality takes place every day sharing time with employees, asking questions, listening and learning. Herb Kelleher understood that, “the desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”
In contrast, We spent 2 years working with an organization on a mentoring program. It was the most senior level (except the president) and they mentored high level managers and high potentials who would one day be their replacements. 2 years and he was a no show we never saw the president. He never dropped by or made inquiries, even when we asked him to come to the end of year celebration and shake hands or make a statement, he never showed his face. It was a total absence of leadership.
Communicating and connecting regularly with our employees, not only strengthens and enhances our relationships, but most importantly, builds trust and unity and leads to greater success for our team and organization.