One of the harder things to do as a company grows is maintain those key relationships between the corporate office and the field. As the company grows larger and larger, it is harder to keep those vital relationships and communication flow open. Communication is the key to a successful business.
Let’s focus on communication. When the top of the business opens their doors then the field personnel, (The ones actually doing to work) know that they come to upper management with their concerns. This opens the door to so much more. Before long, the employees are coming to you with new ideas to help make the business more successful. The people on the ground are the ones that see the short falls of production, where the most unsafe behaviors happen, and why those happen. They are also the ones who are looking for processes and procedures that they can implement that will save them time and energy. Take a few moments and head out of the office and into the field, or production floor to see what your people are going through. Take a few moments weekly and have a genuine conversation with them. you’ll be surprised how far this small action will get you.
In the corporate setting, we don’t always realize that when we bust out a new company rule, or even a best practice how much extra work we are putting the people at the ground level. Really, they don’t have an option or say in the new guideline either. Before you publish something new and write in to “company law” take a few moments to open that line of communication back up with the field and ask what their thoughts are. If you haven’t implemented the step before this then you most likely see them agree to the new procedure, but their agreement be reluctant. By making yourself open to their ideas, they will be more willing to share them with you. Therefore your processes will be even better than before because now you have the whole company working together to improve the processes instead of a small team.
Don’t forget the small things
As I have been working with many companies over my career there is one thing that seems to get lost or forgotten about. Remember the small things. Take time to make a note in your calendar of when their birthday is and if you have established a close enough relationship with them note their anniversary, work and marriage. You don’t need to remind them of how old they are just simple gesture of acknowledging those dates, and maybe a small gift. Corporate swag is always good for birthdays and a gift certificate for dinner is great for anniversaries. It shows that you not only care about them but also their family.
You and your teams’ actions and attitudes say everything
Think about when you were just starting out and working on the ground floor. What did you think about the upper management? Di you think that they felt they were better than everyone else was or were they friendly and open? Coach your corporate team to know the only reason they still have a job is because of the people who aren’t afraid to get dirty and get the job done. So many times, I have been invited into a company to help them improve their relationship with the field and right away notice that the majority of their corporate employees “KNOW” that they are better they person in the field. With an attitude like that they aren’t opening the door, shoot they have the door closed and all the furniture in the office piled up against it. Everyone has to be on a level playing field.
If you’re in a leadership position for any organization try these few key items to help bridge the gap:
1. As a corporate employee make yourself available to field.
2. Open lines of communication with every level of the company and make everyone feel as though they have a say in decisions that affect them directly
3. Listen when employees talk. Take to heart what they are truly saying
4. Don’t make company policies until you have had a communication session with the company
5. Don’t forget the small things. Remember birthdays and special events in your employees lives.
6. Corporates’ attitude can make or break the relationship at any time. If your team has a negative attitude then so will the other teams.
Every problem or issue is an opportunity dressed in ugly clothing. Bridging the gap between the corporate office and the field isn’t really all that hard, but it will take time and a lot of effort on the corporate employees.