Dear Manager,

Economic cycles always challenge business to become much more adept at the fundamentals. In a recent issue, I discussed the relationships and contrasts between productivity and efficiency. As discussed, these are often evaluated as a single entity, while in reality they have little, if any, relationship whatsoever. I appreciate all of your input from this topic, and hope this issue of conflicting realities evokes further discussion.

While I believe we’d all agree that effective communication is essential to any strong organizational structure, it’s also, more often than not, poorly accomplished. Effective communication takes precious time and resolve to accomplish. Shortages of both seem to be a way of life in today’s business! In addition, this is an area of management we wouldn’t normally consider to be “in our face.” Yes, for many it is a function that falls through the cracks. Not just on an occasional basis, but as a point of reality, on a perpetual basis. How might we begin to restore this priority to its rightful position within our company?

In working with a variety companies, it’s become obvious that all managers have communication forms and forums that they feel are most effective in translating their thoughts. While some prefer personal meetings, others do so by phone, email, or in formal written correspondence. While we can agree this art is essential, its form is much less important than the accomplishment of its goal.

As our organizations grow, so does the corresponding responsibility to reevaluate needs versus reality. Failure to maintain open channels will only lead to false perceptions among your greatest assets: the key relationships that are essential to your company.

Who Are Your Core Assets?

Most organizations retain three forms of core assets: their staff, their customer base, and their strategic business relationships. While one or more of these resources may enjoy effective communication, does each receive the communication and degree of visibility that meets your collective needs? My own analysis suggests that all parties fail at some level to meet the minimums in reaching optimum communications.

It would be much more likely for a manager to have an in depth communication with one in ten of these designated priority relationships on a recurring basis. And many of the communications taking place would revolve around a specific issue, topic, or crisis; general discussions are much less likely. What’s on the minds of these “significant players” is essential to the ongoing success of your organization.

With their shared priority for our collective success, what input might they provide of significant value if given the opportunity? Do they currently feel as if their voice is being heard, and that a forum is available for them to contribute to their own constituency’s success? Could the perception exist that management simply doesn’t want the input?

A Forum is Now at Our Fingertips!

How can we effectively and efficiently swing that office door wide open? Like it or not, we continue to evolve into the instant gratification world of email. While this holds an equal degree of potential and missed opportunities, with proper structure it’s a very user-friendly form of communication. It should never replace our priority for personal communication, but it can be a first step in enhancing and motivating participation.

Most, if not all, Internet service providers have the ability to arrange for a second address within your personal email account or corporate website. I’d suggest this new address be opened for the sole purpose of improved communication between key managers and those priority relationships discussed earlier. You might even
name it TALK TO US @ —-.com or CONVERSATIONS OVER DINNER@—-.com. And how is this any different from my current email account, you ask? When an individual logs on to this account, they understand there are priorities given to the message, and standards to be maintained in its use. Ground rules are essential to its effective use and should be stated (and monitored) upfront, if not on the masthead of the account. The ground rules should include:

• The objective of this forum is to create a positive and productive link between management and its key partners (personal concerns and issues should obviously be communicated on a more personal basis; this is NOT a venue to bitch and moan).
• The communication of ideas, suggestions, and opportunities are the foundation of this new vehicle intended to enhance the product and workplace in which we share.
• Correspondence should be limited to a single paragraph of a hundred words or less and must be to the point and well thought out.
• Each correspondence will be reviewed and responded to on a timely basis.
• It’s possible (and should be stated) that it’s likely the communication will be shared in open forum in the hopes that optimum value can be realized.
• No idea or concept will be trivialized or demeaned in any way.
• This is your opportunity to shine; your communication and valued input is essential to the use of all of our professional resources and will be appreciated and acknowledged.

I’d recommend that the announcement of this vehicle be orchestrated as a “bold and exciting commitment to draw these varied relationships to an inviting place of shared ideas.” You might even consider using a formal invitation to announce your concept. Participation is essential and should be highly encouraged. Ideas and concepts should be forwarded to interested parties for their thoughts and personal observations and, on occasion, to this focus group as a whole.

On a monthly (or weekly) basis, you may wish to reward and announce the ideas of the month with an intimate dinner (promoting other forms of communication!) for two to be given to the most recent and valued inspiration. Announce the individual and how the concept provided will be implemented to benefit all parties. Keep the forum exciting, active, relevant, and fun.

You might wonder, “Why not open a web-based newsgroup where all parties can interact and mingle?” Remember, you want to maintain an open and objective forum, one without a personal agenda or potential for grandstanding. Greater control and a sense of confidentiality will be provided when you have the first opportunity to review content, evaluating its potential for further review.

This is a relatively simple first step in beginning to meet the communication potential of an organization. Encourage participants to write down thoughts during the day to forward that evening. Knowing that their voices will be heard and responded to creates a much greater sense of participation and personal ownership. What more can an organization hope for?

Not only that, who better to provide constructive ideas and opportunities than those with vested interests: your priority relationships?

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2012. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM