Welcome to Advisory Board, a weekly department in which a panel of experts—made up of entrepreneurs and professionals—answer questions you have about how to run your business better.
This week, a reader asks:
“In a recent exit interview, a departing employee claimed that I leave staff in the dark about my plans and don’t convey expectations clearly enough. What do I need to do to communicate better with my team?”
Here’s what the experts have to say:
“When employees are kept in the dark about company plans, they tend to fill in the blanks with their own assumptions, and typically those assumptions are either negative or just plain wrong.
“You’ll need to put in place formal communications structures to ensure communications improve, across your company, at all levels. Schedule regular check-ins with each manager and team member, providing an opportunity for them to present their goals and outcomes, and then measure those against the big picture goals of the company. At the day-to-day level, schedule daily or weekly morning huddles where your team can communicate tasks and identify potential bottlenecks.”
—Mark Wardell, president & founder, Wardell International, Vancouver
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“First ensure that you have a SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-specific— strategic plan in place. Then, the best communication tool to share your expectations with your team is Quarterly Priorities Management (QPM). QPM involves identifying your top five strategic priorities for the next 90 days to achieve the strategic plan; sharing the plan and your priorities with your team; and asking each of them to develop their own top five strategic priorities for the quarter. Sit down as a team and go through these priorities on a regular basis, and sit down with each individual team member monthly, to ensure that everyone understands what is expected of them and is working on what’s most important to achieve the company’s goals.”
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“Never enlist an exit interview process unless you intend to do something with the feedback. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of time for both parties and only damages your credibility with your staff.
“Survey other members of your team to understand whether they share the same concerns. If they do, ask them what kinds of communication channels work best for them. There is no better way to roll out a plan then doing it with the support and engagement of your people.”
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“Company founders and CEOs need to know that their personal behaviour trickles down to set the culture of an office environment. If you’re not setting clear expectations for yourself and staff, it’s unlikely that there is much accountability taking place for project deliverables. This leaves lots of room for projects to become mismanaged and client deliverables to fall through the cracks.
“I’m a big fan of having a weekly team huddle, where everyone meets to loop each other in on the status of projects. Each department or project lead runs through what the top priorities are for the week. Then each team member, including the CEO, vocalizes what their three main deliverables are for that day or week. We like to write these down on a white board for everyone to access and cross off once they are completed.”
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MORE ADVICE FROM OUR EXPERTS:
- What to Do When a Key Employee Goes on Leave »
- 5 Ways to Make Reference Checks Worth Your While »
- How to Tell Customers You’ve Been Hacked »
- Do I Really Need an Open Office? »
- The Profits and Perils of Sponsorship »
Do you have a question you’d like answered? Email us and we’ll put it to the experts. Have any advice to add to this list? Share your thoughts using the comments section below.