Is your organisation living in the Dark Ages?

Any business in 2018 will have access to sophisticated tools for communication that our medieval predecessors could hardly have imagined possible.  However, I’m not sure that we always make best use of this advantage.

As a consumer, I often despair at some of the communication I receive.  I imagine we’ve all spoken to someone whose approach to service delivery is to “wing it”, or to people so wrapped up in their own rules and environment that they’ve forgotten the relevance of the customer.

There is a parallel here with what some people refer to as the Dark Ages.   

When the “Dark Ages” phrase first emerged, the logic was that, because there is less written evidence from the early middle ages than the periods before and after, then society must have been inferior or in decline.

It doesn’t really matter whether the dark ages were inferior or not (although archaeology suggests that the middle ages might not have been as backward as first imagined). What matters is the assumptions people make in the absence of documentary information.   

This is our parallel with contemporary business management, in particular in relation to internal communication. It can take a lot of time, money and digging to uncover something that was already known (but never documented). What a waste!

Does everyone in your organisation understand and embody your values and purpose?

Does everyone in your management team know, precisely, what everyone else does and why? Does everyone in your organisation understand the procedures to adopt in face of an unplanned event?

The painful bit is this - in the absence of any definitive written versions, what damage can people inflict by “winging it”?

As a business advisor, I occasionally work with businesses who don’t record much internal communication. It’s my job to introduce the client to some emergency planning. “What would happen if you were incapacitated? Would everyone know what to do?”

“That decision you made last month, why did one option make more sense than any others? Why did you eliminate some ideas? Would it make sense to commit that thinking to archive so that it never delays you again?”

How can we expect people to perform as well as required, if they don’t have as much information as is available? 

I’ve heard some people say that if a colleague needs “spoon-feeding” total information, then they can’t be the right person for the company. That attitude might be correct. However, I haven’t met many SME/owner-managed businesses for whom it is realistic or pragmatic.

To be clear, my point isn’t about increasing volumes of email in order to cover your back, it’s about building a culture and habit of efficient communication.  

Going into this level of record-keeping is undoubtedly more time-consuming than not bothering, and potentially unappealing to some business leaders.  But the expense and hassle of recording internal communication are likely to be significantly less than the costs of tidying-up once the lack of documented information has caused an emergency.

 

Do you have the right infrastructure in place to manage internal communications and prepare your team for potential issues? If not, contact Nick at nick.palmer@armstrongwatson.co.uk

Contact Nick

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