Building A Foundation for Communication

Internal communication is at the very heart of making sure your company is running smoothly. Not just within each department, but between departments, leadership, and HR. You’re probably nodding your head (or rolling your eyes) because this is basic, like really basic, for every company ever. So why are we writing about it? Because lack of communication is something many businesses struggle with and it can cause big problems. 

When a company suffers from a lack of communication, there’s always fallout: 

  • Accountability drops 
  • Resentment builds 
  • Important information gets lost  
  • Initiatives fail 
  • Employees start looking for other employment 

The list can go on and on and on. Lack of communication can leave employees feeling directionless and disengaged at the very least, and at worst, cost the business serious money in wasted initiatives, botched sales, and confused and frustrated customers.   

So how do you ensure your company is communicating effectively? Start by pick your channels. 

In-person meetings 

Setting up a reliable schedule for meetings is a key part of maintaining consistent communication. There’s a lot of talk about how meetings can be a waste of time if executed improperly and without an agenda, but that’s not a reason to stop having them. Instead, make them better.  

  • Set up weekly or monthly meetings between team leaders to review overall company goalsupdate each other on current projects and challenges, and stay uptodate on interdepartmental projects. Come into the meeting with an agenda and stick to it. If new topics come up during the meeting, make a note and address them at another time. 
  • Set up 5minute startofday meetings within departments for managers to highlight daily goals and agenda. 
  • Set up endofday (or week) meetings covering what has been accomplished and/or what needs to get done next.  

Digital communication 

Inperson (or video) meetings are critically important to developing relationshipsbut they shouldn’t be the only way of communicating. Supplement regular meetings with a digital communication channel to keep the communication flowing and document what’s been discussed.  

Thankfully, there are countless apps and programs companies can use for internal communication channels. While email is a standardit’s also so overused that it’s not always the most efficient way for companies to communicate internally. Think about your inbox—there are probably emails waiting to be sorted, emails you haven’t had time respond to, and emails you’ve forgotten entirely. Add in the back-and-forth messiness that comes with email conversations and you’ve got a recipe for poor communication.  

While email can be a good option for some communications, it shouldn’t be the only one you use. There are plenty of apps such as Slack or Microsoft Teams that are great for more efficient and effective communication.  

With digital apps, you can have direct conversations between individuals. And you can also have conversations in a group format where everyone in the group can see what’s being discussed. Keep this really focused by setting up multiple discussion groups, and have each be for a specific topic. This lets people choose the topics relevant to themselves and their roles. 

Whether it’s a direct or group conversation, the digital apps provide a great way to have a string of conversation that is saved and easily searchable.  

Keep it consistent  

Consistency is at the core of good communication. Once you choose your channels, stick with them. Create an expectation that everyone from the top down consistently participates in the meetings and uses the technology. Make it clear how and when the different channels of communication will be used. The more they’re used effectively, the more people will depend on them, and the more efficient everyone will become. 

Leadership must set the example and take the lead in adopting any new technology. If your leaders are still stuck using email or the whiteboard in the common area, the time you spend training your employees to use the program will be wasted.  

If your company is struggling with a lack of clarity and communication, ask yourself if everyone has a reliable way to contact one another and discuss internal topics in a timely manner. Then ask if your leaders are committed to using those channelsPeople will do as you do far more than they’ll do what you say.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Bonzami Emmanuelle 

 

Create an Atmosphere for Employee Contribution

In our world of rapidly changing business practices and marketing techniques, innovation is essential for keeping businesses in the race. Fostering a business that thrives off change and innovation may seem illustrious and distant, but it isn’t out of reach—even if you’re working with a small team. 

There are plenty of unique ways to get creative, but without first implementing these key concepts, your efforts won’t be as successful as you hope 

1. Create an atmosphere of psychological safety 

This may seem obvious, but its all too often taken for granted. At some point, most of us have worked under a manager who valued their position of power and resisted anything that might threaten it. Like that great idea you had about how to attract a new type of customer.   

“That’s great, but we like how things are now and we don’t want to upset the balance we’ve created.” In other words: “I am comfortable being the shot caller and I don’t want anything to change in case it affects my position.”  

This behavior is not only toxic to the future of the company, but to the employees working around it. No one wants to be shot down for their idea, or to see their ideas get pushed aside over and over again. Eventually, they’ll stop speaking up and start looking for a job where the contribution of their ideas is welcomed. 

Ensuring that every employee from each level of the company has the opportunity to share ideas expands your resources. Each employee is exposed to unique challenges and experiences based on their job, and they just might come up with something that management would never have thought of.  

Your employees are the driving force behind your vision and accomplishing your goals. Without a culture that praises and encourages new solutions, ideas, and tools offered up by employees, no one will want to contribute, and you’ll lose their buy-in. Show them you value their ideas by giving them the opportunity to share and act on them.   

2. Encourage collaboration  

Collaboration fosters imagination, productivity, and inspiration. Think back to the last time you had a great meeting with a group of people that fed off each other’s energy and ideas, where you got more done in an hour together than you had all month alone.  

Take advantage of this collaborative approach in your organization by giving employees opportunities to learn and expand their vision. 

  • Conferences are a great opportunity to get people working with each other and expose your employees to new ideas and techniques. They also provide a chance for you to stay up-to-date on what your competitors and peers are doing. Encouraging employees to attend conferences is also a great way to give them a refresher—get them out of the office and into something new so when they come back, they’ll be full of new ideas and energy.   
     
  • Teams 

Great teamwork is one of the most coveted accomplishments in business. Nothing generates productivity and success like a team that works together to implement new ideas and challenge the status quo. Building teams and a culture of collaboration is a huge part of getting ideas flowing and generating momentum within your company. Assign team leaders who are responsible for bringing new ideas to leadership to ensure they get heard and considered. 

  • Networking 

There are countless professionals in every area of business that are interested in helping and collaborating with each other. There isn’t anything to be gained from keeping your employees separate from other professionals in their field just because you don’t want to share with competition. There is plenty to go around, so don’t hesitate to send your employees out into their professional community to sus out new ideas, technology, and techniques.  

  • Aligning Departments 

Interdepartmental collaboration is so important, not just for creating an innovative culture, but to help align your business with your core goals and values. Set up meetings between departments to talk about the challenges they face and crowdsource ideas about how to address them. You never know, Sadie from marketing might just have the perfect solution for dealing with a common roadblock that is stopping sales from closing their leads. 

Taking full advantage 

It’s critical to remember that each employee at your company has something unique to offer. Each person has their own strengths, interests, and motivations. By building a culture that encourages and enables each employee to bring all their tools to the table, you’re diversifying your pool of potential solutions to any problem.  

The key is to remember the individuality of your employees and incorporate it into the heart of how you run your company. When employees can tell their ideas and solutions are valued, they are more likely to feel a sense of loyalty to their workplace. Not to mention heightened engagement. That’s what smart business is all about.  

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners

Photo by Aleksandr Davydov

 

How to be an Employer of Choice

Is there a magical way to become an employer of choice and attract top talent? Nope. But there are a couple of quick and easy tricks to recruiting and retaining great employees.

  1. Find out what they care about.
  2. Provide it.

Just what do employees care about?

Lots of things! That said, every employee is different, and what appeals to one person may not appeal to another. Employee motivations are wide-ranging and can change over time. The more diverse your group is, the more diversity you’ll want to build into your employee benefits. This doesn’t mean your company has to start offering everything under the sun. It just means you‘ll want to think about the kinds of people you want on your team and the kinds of perks and benefits that will be most attractive to them.

If you don’t know where to start, here’s a very simple idea: Ask your current employees what they love most about working for you. If the answer is “The Paycheck!” this could mean that your employees care most about financial security. It could also mean they aren’t super excited about your culture— or anything else you’re currently offering.

If you want a more well-rounded answer, follow up by asking your employees for one thing they wish they could change. This will provide additional insight into what motivates them and what they feel is missing from the current environment. If the top answer here is “More vacation days!” it could mean they need more time to rest and recharge. Reading between the lines, it could also mean they value flexibility, or that workloads have gotten out of control, and it’s time to hire additional team members.

As an employer, you have the power to dig as deep as you want on these topics. There is one caveat here: If you love your current business model, aren’t ready to make major changes, or don’t want to stir up a bunch of negative feedback, a survey may not be your best course of action. If this is the case, you can simply look to the research that’s already out there to get an idea of what employees want and how you can deliver on those things.

Top employee desires

While it’s true that each person, company, and work group is different, it’s also true that the majority of employees are looking for a few key things. Today’s employees want to work for organizations that provide the following:

Financial security

While many things matter to employees, money is still the top deciding factor for the majority of job seekers when taking or leaving positions. Employees aren’t just looking for financial stability, they also want the hope of a secure future.

Things employees value: competitive compensation, tuition assistance, student loan repayment programs, retirement plans

Health benefits

Having great healthcare doesn’t just keep employees well physically. It also helps with financial  and mental health. Many employees can’t afford healthcare on their own, and they value the security and wellness this benefit brings to their lives. (According to one survey, 88% of respondents said they would give this benefit “some consideration” or “heavy consideration” when choosing a job.)

Things employees value: low cost medical, dental and vision plans, HSAs, telemedicine

Work/Life balance

All work and no play makes for an unhappy team. Both work and life can get incredibly complex and busy, and employees are looking for ways to artfully manage it all. At the end of the day, even the “Rise and grind” types want to be able to work when, where, and how they want to. The good news here is that flexible hours and remote work often cost nothing for employers to provide. These things can actually make employees happy AND save companies money at the same time.

Things employees value: flexible schedules, remote work options, unlimited vacation policies, paid time off, parental leave

A sense of belonging and purpose

The lines between work and personal lives are blurring. More and more employees want to feel like they can bring their whole selves to work. They want to be accepted as individuals and they want to feel like they are making a difference in the world. For today’s workers and job seekers, culture has become nearly as important as compensation.

Things employees value: company culture, workplace diversity, paid volunteer time, defined career paths, professional development

The bottom line

Talented employees have options. They aren’t afraid to leave bad bosses or bad companies. More importantly, they will be inspired to seek out organizations who have solid values, do great work, and treat employees well. Investing in your people and your benefits program is a great way to increase employee retention and make sure you stay on the nice list.

 

Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners
 
Photo by
 

lightfieldstudios
 
 

Spending Too Much on Coffee? There’s a Business Lesson Here.

Did you start your day with a stop at your favorite coffee shop?

Let’s stop for a moment and think about the experience— and the reasoning behind it.

It’s about more than coffee

You could have made your coffee at home, saving time and money in the process. So what made you go to down to that coffee shop instead? There are likely several reasons:

  • The coffee is better than what you make at home.
  • You know what you’re getting. It’s the same every time.
  • The staff is friendly. Maybe they even know your name. Or your drink.
  • The overall experience makes you feel happy and satisfied.

Yes, you paid a premium for your morning beverage of choice. And let’s be honest. You’ll probably go back tomorrow and do it again. Because the value you get from going there is worth the time, money, and effort it takes to make it happen.

But what if it wasn’t?

What if your favorite coffee shop decided not to invest in the quality of their product and their employees?

What if every time you went there, you got a different experience, a different employee, and a different tasting drink?

Suddenly, the value you once perceived is gone. Now it’s a crap shoot. Maybe you’ll get a good cup of coffee, maybe you won’t. Instead of investing in a positive way to start your day, you’re merely gambling.

And odds are you’re not going to be willing to take that risk for long.

What your customers want

To keep clients from heading out the door and down the street, your business needs to provide both quality and consistency.

In other words, your team needs to have the tools and training to be able to deliver on the promises your marketing makes.

This requires investing in your processes and your employees.

It’s not rocket science. We’re talking about the basics here:

  • Hire good people.
  • Train them well and often.
  • Compensate them appropriately.
  • Put processes in place that ensure quality and consistency.
  • Build a culture that places high value on customer and employee experiences.
  • Hold everyone accountable to the standards you have set.
  • Let go of people and processes that aren’t serving you or your clients well.

Yes, this list may sound simplistic, but it’s uncanny how many businesses skimp on these things to make an extra buck or two.

The problem is that skimping on quality and consistency will cost you way more in the long run than you will ever save in the short term. 

What does your team need?

Depending on what kind of company you’re running, there could be a variety of things. But here are some key items worth investing in.

  • A meaningful purpose
  • A defined sales process
  • A clear vision of what the customer experience looks like
  • Happy, engaged employees to deliver on that experience
  • Strong leadership that isn’t afraid to make difficult decisions
  • An organizational culture that attracts and retains top tier talent

None of these things will happen overnight. But investing in them can have a huge impact on the long-term success of your business.

If you don’t know how to make these things happen on your own, invest in the necessary professional development, coaching, and training get you there.

It can’t just be talk

If the sign in your window says you offer the best cup of coffee in the world, you’d better not be serving up the instant crystals.

Talking about quality is one thing but producing and maintaining it is another. It takes work. And time. And yes, even money. But if you make quality, consistency, and an amazing customer experience integral parts of your brand, your customers will keep coming back for more. And telling everyone else about it.

Because the only thing better than the best cup of coffee in the world is sharing it with a friend. 

 

Photo by Somsak Sudthangtum 

Spending Too Much on Coffee? There’s a Business Lesson Here.

Did you start your day with a stop at your favorite coffee shop?

Let’s stop for a moment and think about the experience— and the reasoning behind it.

It’s about more than coffee

You could have made your coffee at home, saving time and money in the process. So what made you go to down to that coffee shop instead? There are likely several reasons:

  • The coffee is better than what you make at home.
  • You know what you’re getting. It’s the same every time.
  • The staff is friendly. Maybe they even know your name. Or your drink.
  • The overall experience makes you feel happy and satisfied.

Yes, you paid a premium for your morning beverage of choice. And let’s be honest. You’ll probably go back tomorrow and do it again. Because the value you get from going there is worth the time, money, and effort it takes to make it happen.

But what if it wasn’t?

What if your favorite coffee shop decided not to invest in the quality of their product and their employees?

What if every time you went there, you got a different experience, a different employee, and a different tasting drink?

Suddenly, the value you once perceived is gone. Now it’s a crap shoot. Maybe you’ll get a good cup of coffee, maybe you won’t. Instead of investing in a positive way to start your day, you’re merely gambling.

And odds are you’re not going to be willing to take that risk for long.

What your customers want

To keep clients from heading out the door and down the street, your business needs to provide both quality and consistency.

In other words, your team needs to have the tools and training to be able to deliver on the promises your marketing makes.

This requires investing in your processes and your employees.

It’s not rocket science. We’re talking about the basics here:

  • Hire good people.
  • Train them well and often.
  • Compensate them appropriately.
  • Put processes in place that ensure quality and consistency.
  • Build a culture that places high value on customer and employee experiences.
  • Hold everyone accountable to the standards you have set.
  • Let go of people and processes that aren’t serving you or your clients well.

Yes, this list may sound simplistic, but it’s uncanny how many businesses skimp on these things to make an extra buck or two.

The problem is that skimping on quality and consistency will cost you way more in the long run than you will ever save in the short term. 

What does your team need?

Depending on what kind of company you’re running, there could be a variety of things. But here are some key items worth investing in.

  • A meaningful purpose
  • A defined sales process
  • A clear vision of what the customer experience looks like
  • Happy, engaged employees to deliver on that experience
  • Strong leadership that isn’t afraid to make difficult decisions
  • An organizational culture that attracts and retains top tier talent

None of these things will happen overnight. But investing in them can have a huge impact on the long-term success of your business.

If you don’t know how to make these things happen on your own, invest in the necessary professional development, coaching, and training get you there.

It can’t just be talk

If the sign in your window says you offer the best cup of coffee in the world, you’d better not be serving up the instant crystals.

Talking about quality is one thing but producing and maintaining it is another. It takes work. And time. And yes, even money. But if you make quality, consistency, and an amazing customer experience integral parts of your brand, your customers will keep coming back for more. And telling everyone else about it.

Because the only thing better than the best cup of coffee in the world is sharing it with a friend. 

 

Photo by Somsak Sudthangtum