Building Communication Pillars

Marilyn SanfordsmartPRENEUR Blog Series

A sustainable business depends on effective communications.  Company values, vision, purpose and mission are foundational. They provide clarity and alignment.  However, the Integrity and effectiveness of the foundational principles are upheld through and depend on communications.

“When brands test, teach and learn along with employees on the go, you will not only solve the current problem but also future-proof your company.” 

* Pillar & quote Source:

I loved this quote for several reasons: First, the brand is the company.   A company brand embodies everything the company does, its employees do, and its customers say.  Whatever is communicated both inside and to the outside world, through all touchpoints, is the brand.   The second reason I love this quote, is it so well articulates the importance of positive dynamic within a company now and into the future.  Lastly, it emphasizes that employees are not only an integral part of the business they are a valuable part of the brand.      

*According to McKinsey, a business with well-connected teams witnessed increased productivity of 20% to 25%.
*According to CMSWire, 97% of the employees say that communication impacts their task efficiency everyday.
*According to HBR, employees working in companies that follow effective communication practices and minimize the silo effect via centralized communication systems are 3.5x more likely to perform better than their peers.  

Gallup’s study says that 74% of the employees are either watching for new job openings or actively looking for other employment opportunities.  Believe this and work to make it a very difficult decision to leave.  Engage your employees in a positive and respectful way, work with them to build a strong culture.  Healthy communications is key to employee loyalty.   

Everyone of your employees are emissaries for good or bad. 

All the more complicated because of social media. Don’t underestimate the incredible power of social media; the knee jerk reaction is to believe it.  

Healthy communication also needs clear accountabilities.   Set up opportunities to help employees understand the impact their decisions and workmanship have on the success of your brand.  Build ways for all your stakeholders to communicate, whether employees, customers, or your channels. This can be important with field crew who may want resolution, or answers, quickly.   We actually increased the approval level for our field crew, to empower them to provide resolution to problems on sites with immediacy.  This helped builders, other trades and customers move forward without delay.

Strive for open communications with feedback loops that keep everyone engaged.  Complicating this is the expectation for immediacy, that communications are ‘now’, which is an added challenge.  The attributes of effective communication loops are direct, open and timely.  You want to expose the cracks in the process, capturing inefficiencies as they happen.   With so many ways to communicate, there is an expectation for higher standards and likely an intolerance for slow or less effective systems.    

Timely communications can be a challenge. Implementing software that is integrated throughout the business, both inside and outside, connecting the field crew, makes this a lot easier. A common business system capable of capturing communications, becomes part of the culture, seamless within the business processes.  There are too many details, too much going on, to delay communications, or to tolerate inefficient systems.

Make it Safe

Additionally, effective communication makes it safe to talk about whatever is hurting the bottom line.  This can also feed and reinforce a healthy culture.  As well, it creates opportunities to celebrate what is working well.  When we first started to make celebrations part of our meetings, it was awkward.  The team was uncomfortable but over time it was great to hear the positive observations, whether it was a teammate, a new process, or a productive day.  Our meetings would start with something inspirational and follow with celebrations, open to the whole team.  

Think about creating a rigorous meeting rhythm: daily, weekly and following milestones in the business.  Invite feedback.  Depending on the size of the team, it may be enlightening to include the whole, or part of the team in strategy meetings.  We had to adjust our meeting rhythm, because there is only so much time.  However, we didn’t use that as an excuse to avoid or minimize these important connections.  It was a fine line, no question. I often wondered where I’d find the time, but we always did.  

Lastly, you never arrive.  Just know that.  As well, you can’t stop iterating, working on communications, celebrations, new processes and metrics etc.   For this reason, it is so important to have good systems, so you and your team can manage, observe, report and iterate within tolerable timelines.  If your information systems don’t support your team’s experience or help make change manageable, it becomes very difficult.  Meaningful and timely Information is a high priority and in this competitive world, non-negotiable.   

About the Author

Marilyn Sanford

Marilyn is a Professional Accountant. She spent 23 years running trade based businesses, offering Low Voltage Custom Integration solutions to demanding and discriminating customers for high end residences and businesses. She has served on boards, taught in her Industry and is a Fellow of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA). Marilyn Co—founded Smart fx in 1992, merged with La Scala in 2000 and later acquired LaScaIa in 2007. Over the years running a custom installation business, she learned what it takes to run a profitable business dependent on construction timelines. These insights and lessons learned, delivering ‘skilled labour’ as a primary service offering, were the seeds that grew the LincEdge concept.