I was impressed by a small bit of management technique I ran into when I visited a factory the other day. Small but not unimportant: some of the best management ideas are simple.
My meeting was with the directors of the company. I parked in front of the dispatch area, with people and fork lift trucks buzzing around, and made my way to reception. Once greeted there by a member of staff, one of the directors led me upstairs, past the sales department, to our meeting. I guess that I was seen by about a dozen people – about a fifth of the company.
Amongst many other things, we talked about how they let people know about progress in the business. They described the process they had for setting objectives, tracking progress, and letting people know about what was happening.
But here’s the bit I liked. They told me that by the end of that day, there would be an update for everyone in the company that would include an explanation of who I am, and what I was there for. This wouldn’t be a one-off – these updates happen all the time.
Here’s what impressed me about this simple idea.
A man arriving at a factory could be there for many reasons. I could have been a buyer about to negotiate a big order. I could have been from the liquidators that had been appointed overnight*. The fact that I was there to help with the development of the company was immaterial: the directors had made a commitment to keep people informed, no matter who I was.
That displays trust. Trust that the workforce would be interested, would understand the information they were given, and would handle it appropriately.
I think the directors of that company have set themselves a very high standard for communication with their people. I applaud them. I think it will serve them very well.
* If I’d been wearing a suit… 😉