Break it down
Sometimes, the problem for CEOs is not
an inability to communicate with his or her people. The challenge arises in trying to narrow the dialogue into
specific goals and objectives.
“A lot of times, I think what happens to organizations that fail is
they overwhelm the field organization with initiatives,” O’Connor
says. “All of a sudden they have 20 best practices going on and a to-do list that the local regional manager left with the division to
improve operations. The organization has no sense of priority as to
what is important. They’ve got a lot of things that could improve the
business, but no one is given a clear vision or given a clear understanding of what the goals and objectives are.
“Somebody has got to come back and put those down and then be
able to communicate very clearly how the various parts of the
organization contribute to those goals and objectives.”
O’Connor uses the example of the company’s recent focus on
improving pricing throughout the organization.
“It’s one thing to say we’re focused on improving pricing,”
O’Connor says. “What does pricing mean and how do you improve
pricing? Is it just a matter of increasing customers? No. The various
constituencies within our organization have to understand why we
need to improve it.”
Successful communication relies on your ability to educate customers, employees and shareholders, or groups within those
groups, so they can pass the word onto others and each group can
focus on what its role is in getting the task done.
“The first thing we need to do is educate the local operating unit as
to why we’re not achieving adequate return on investment,”
O’Connor says. “Once they understand that, they can better communicate to the customer why we need to improve pricing.”
The sales and marketing team needs to know so it can talk with
finance and develop tools that can be used to communicate any
changes to customers. By breaking it down along the way and relying on smaller groups to move the message along, each group gets
the information pieces they really need to get things done.
“Sometimes, the goals and objectives that we give out from the top
floor are so broad that it is hard for various constituencies to figure
out what their contribution is and how they contribute and how they
support,” O’Connor says. “We tried to keep it to two or three goals
and objectives for the organization so it’s not overwhelming.”