Poor communication in the business environment can be very costly. It could lead to decisions that are made using false assumptions and unreliable data. Such problems can cost organizations an average of more than $7,000 a day.
There are various reasons why wrong information can be creeping into your organization right now: unclear instructions and expectations, poor listening skills, unreliable data, lack of collaboration among team members and the list goes on. One of the leading communication issues involves teams and departments operating in siloes and not sharing information.
This lack of collaboration can kill a growing business.
So can this be solved? Here’s an idea: Promote a single version of truth in your business.
By this, I mean that your business should espouse transparency and better sharing of data and information across the organization. This can be done with the help of cloud-based solutions that promote transparency and collaboration.
Benefits of Sharing Information in the Workplace
You can achieve the following benefits by encouraging such collaboration among your employees.
One “Truth” Will Enable Better Decisions
You might encounter this term in computing: single version of the truth or SVOT. It’s a principle that encourages the use of a centralized and synchronized database to house all relevant data in a standard format.This seeks to ensure the integrity of the data being used at any given point.
The same goes for the flow of information within your organization. Accurate and reliable information should flow across all levels of the business regardless if it’s good or bad. For example, negative reviews might impact the perceived performance of customer support staff. Thus, they have a vested interest in distorting this feedback in an effort to reduce blame.
The problem is that such information asymmetry can lead to poor decision-making down the line. You need to nip issues like these in the bud. Sharing data and information in a transparent manner will ensure that everyone is in the loop, and that everyone is aware of any potential issues with the business, product or service that can be addressed in a collaborative manner.
Transparency Promotes Trust
Another principle that you can apply to make sure you’re working on accurate information is quality from source. The key question to ask here is this: Where is the information coming from, and how is it relevant to me?
The problem with word-of-mouth and qualitative information is that it can be influenced by bias or by outright lies. Some executives are quite paranoid about sharing information with everyone, for example. While some matters may need to be held in confidence, there are things you should share with everyone involved. For example, letting people know how your business performs in terms of metrics and indicators can help affirm everyone’s contribution.
But how do you make sense of these numbers for everyone? This is where visualization tools and dashboards come in. One very handy dashboard service is Cyfe, which allows you to deploy business dashboards simply by putting up widgets. It can even integrate with tools that you might use like Google Analytics, PayPal or even Facebook. If you have large displays in your office, you can even hook it up so that everyone in your business can get a quick snapshot of the state of your business in real time. By making the information visual, some may even spot trends and opportunities that may otherwise go unnoticed. With a potent dashboard, everything is easy to track and monitor, and on top of it all you save a lot of time.
Efficient Collaboration Promotes Synergy
Inter-departmental friction often arises from each department thinking that they contribute more to the company and work harder than others. This is often compounded by the seemingly arbitrary way some managers measure performance. Even individual team members may slack off if they can’t tell if they are doing meaningful work, how well they’re performing or if they’re actually helping deliver value.
So it’s important to define what metrics are important to your business. Professionals in various industries will require different metrics, however. For example, those in the more creative industries don’t really need their hours of work tallied for them to know if they’re performing. They usually rely on the quality of their output and the acceptability to the client as better measures of success. This is different from more transactional personnel, wherein the numbers of orders fulfilled and speed of delivery may more accurately show their productivity.
However, to properly track performance, you should have a consistent manner of documenting what work gets done. A solution like WorkflowMax not only offers consolidated ways to track tasks through your workflow. It can also readily generate performance reports. Having such a system can enable you to track organization-wide metrics like revenue per employee and even effectiveness ratios (or the gross profit you generate per workforce expense).
Integrated Workflows Make it Easy to Build Value
As a leader, it’s important for you to empower people by making them aware of how everyone contributes value to the bigger picture.
One clear example here is discouraging the attitude of passing the buck. Transparency in the workflow will enable people to be aware of each other’s roles and responsibilities and how they complement these with their own.
Integrated workflows and free flow of information give everyone a better appreciation of how other teams and departments are affected by their actions.
This can be done by establishing integrated workflows that everyone can know about and understand. Illustrate how customer value is enhanced and delivered through the various department tasks. Use flowcharts. Make it visual.
If you’re up for the investment, you could also utilize enterprise-grade workflow management solutions, which can also be useful for small scale setups.For instance, task management software like Wrike or even a simple Kanban board like Trello can help visually track tasks. What these tools enable you to do is to share and collaborate on the same information as the work gets passed on from one person to the next. It’s hard to muddy up facts that everyone sees.
Promoting transparency and collaboration takes a lot of effort and will. It may take some work to encourage people to buy into such a mindset. Miscommunication and siloes can be avoided if everyone knows how everyone else is contributing and that everyone else is looking at and acting on the same quality information.
Offer concrete ways to track and measure performance so that people can readily check how well they are doing. This way, you can ensure that everyone is always acting on the right information and making informed decisions.
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