Approximately seven years ago, the home builder’s work force was ruled by cliques: salespeople in the field, management in the Chesterfield corporate office, carpenters on the worksite and so on. Each was separated by sputtering channels of communication and the festering antagonism of exclusion.
Faced with such division, Taylor brought his employees together the only way he knew how by sharing any and all information that he could. Promoting an open-book policy on financials and strategic goals not only fosters a sense of inclusion, he says, it also instills trust and ownership among staff members. Today, Taylor-Morley’s employees work as an aligned unit, boosting the company’s 2006 revenue to approximately $80 million.
Smart Business spoke with Taylor about how to facilitate cohesion at your company through communication with your employees.
Don’t be afraid to let employees read the books. We have brown-bag seminars where we invite all of our company team members to a breakfast where we talk about current events and the vision of the company. The leaders of the company will discuss pertinent issues that have to do with where we are financially, meeting our goals, our budgets and also talk about current events in the industry.
We have an open-book policy where people know where we are as it relates to our goals in terms of revenue and profitability and on and on and on. That goes a long, long way to instill confidence and trust amongst your team.
The benefits are people are going to learn. Where you’re able to communicate with people, they’re not just wedged in their four-walled office or their little cubicle. They’re learning; they’re growing.
Share information with everyone.
At one time, we didn’t have that open-book policy. Six or seven years ago, we felt that there were too many little cliques going on.
We felt that the only way to really break down those barriers was to make sure that we communicated to everybody any and all information.
We have our salespeople in those brown bags, we have our field people, we have our carpenters, we have our office people, we have our customer service people, our financial people; everybody participates.
It has really, really helped tremendously just by virtue of how people are willing to help one another. We don’t have the kinds of cliques that we had at one time from one department to another. It really breaks down that barrier.
You’ve got the best shot at dealing with outside conditions when you’ve got people all pulling together and understand what the goals and objectives are, and that they know that they can count on their fellow team members to be there to help and assist toward reaching those goals.
Make yourself accessible. There is not a substitute for timely and proper communication.
People know that I have an open-door policy. I’m constantly around and engaging people and wanting to get feedback. ...
By having an open-door policy and always being accessible, that gives the individual person the mindset that you’re just not talking all the time, you’re listening, and you’re available to them.
Maintain an air of sincerity. You can say whatever you want, but if people feel that you’re condescending, they’re not going to be able to trust you.
That’s the most important thing. They have to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when you say something to them, you’re sincere, and that they can trust that the feedback and communication that you have is important and it means something.
You’re not able to build that kind of a culture overnight. It takes time.
I’ve built my career around, ‘My word is my bond.’ People can, without a doubt, trust me. When I say something, I’m going to do something. ...
It’s pretty simple stuff, but leaders’ egos get in the way a lot of times. The most successful leaders are those that don’t have the large egos and care more about the individual and the company. If they genuinely care about their success, then along with that will come the success of the company.
Let employees know where they stand.
People want feedback. People want to know how they’re doing against their goals and objectives.
Everybody in the company is reviewed every 90 days, and they have an opportunity to have their direct report go over what their goals and objectives are in terms of their particular job and get feedback. That’s extremely important to raise the vitality of our people.
It’s really all about communication. ...
That’s helped to grow our company in terms of the quality of people.
The quarterly review process is a fabulous tool and one that gets very, very high marks from our team members.
Previous to that, people would wander around saying, ‘I don’t know whether I’m doing the right job,’ or, ‘I don’t know what so-and-so thinks.’ This leaves no doubts in the manager and the staff position of where they stand.Associate Editor Patrick Mayock contributed to this story.
HOW TO REACH: Taylor-Morley Inc., (888) 297-3155 or www.taylormorley.com