Communication - the essential ingredient

Monday, August 17, 2015

The foundation of much of the success of a business will stem from fundamental people relationships and behaviours, skills and expertise, and quality of the communication processes inside an organisation.

So typically, when an organisation’s strategic priority is providing a superior level of customer service, having a bad reputation for the way its staff treat customers will have the Board looking for answers—and rightly so. Where is the disconnect between the organisation’s mission statement and reality? Is it management, staff attitudes, training? The answer is likely to be a combination of several things, however it is also likely to be a lack of understanding at the coalface due to poor communication. Or worse still, no communication of priorities at all.

Consider this example:
A call centre sets calls-per-hour and sales targets for their staff, which they meet. Team leaders and call centre managers therefore meet their KPIs. As a department, things look good on paper. But a customer satisfaction survey reports low levels of customer satisfaction, meaning the organisation’s overall strategic priorities are not met. How does this happen and more importantly, why is operational performance at odds with company strategy and objectives?

When a Board develops a strategic plan and sets high level priorities, objectives and KPIs, the underlying Business Units must reference these to develop objectives and KPIs for their functional area of responsibility. These should then be referenced by those departments reporting to the functional area as they develop their own subset of objectives and KPIs as they relate to their activities. This process continues through each level of the business. This process, referred to as the Planning Cascade, results in harmonised objectives and KPIs throughout the organisation. In theory, each level is working towards fulfilling the organisation’s mission statement, by creating relevant objectives and KPIs that are linked to the level above. Ultimately, these are all tied to the overarching organisational goals and KPIs.

The reality is it often something very different. Lack of clarity or understanding of objectives and KPIs at the highest level, or the perceived relevance of these, results in distortion or even loss the further down the organisation you go. The result—departments developing objectives & KPIs in isolation at the expense of other sections of the business and of the organisation as a whole.

The solution
The key is to ensure that the outcomes and strategic priorities of the business are filtered down for each business level or department—and this is done through communication. Managers at each level must have the conversations with staff. Department objectives must show direct links between the tasks at each level of the business so employees have an understanding of the importance of their KPIs and how these impact the organisation’s corporate level objectives and KPIs. 

Training also needs to be considered here and tailored to incorporate and communicate the company’s vision, values and mission statement. What the Board believes a superior level of customer service looks like must be the basis of all communication and training sessions. All employees must be working towards the same goal and have a clear understanding of what those goals are.

Without a Planning Cascade intervention, the direct link to the organisation’s corporate goals, objectives and KPIs can be lost. Departments and individuals can be working hard to meet KPIs and be exhibiting behaviours that have a weak link, or no link at all to the business’ overall vision and mission statement.

The consequences of in-action is that the organisation continues to promote its superior level of customer service, however this is not being delivered as employees focus on ‘making the sale’ at the expense of the customer experience. The end result—the individual meets their KPIs while the company fails. 

If your company identifies with this issue we can help as awbt group are experts in building business capacity and people capability. 

Contact us to talk about how awbt group can help your company.

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