Operations Q&A: Time for a State of the Union - Modern Distribution Management

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Operations Q&A: Time for a State of the Union

Communication within your company can improve productivity and the bottom line.

Question: Have you scheduled your company's state of the "union" address?

Answer: Each January, except during inauguration years, the president of the United States delivers his State of the Union. Major networks and numerous other cable stations televise the speech, but before you change this “channel,” let me assure you that this blog is not about politics or presidential preferences. I learned long ago not to delve into those topics. No, this about the importance of communication within your “union.”

Bottom Line: Many years ago, upon assuming the role of president for a distribution company that was financially strapped, I visited a key customer. While discussing our problems and the actions we were undertaking to reverse course, one of their executives responded with, “Why didn’t your predecessor tell us about the problem? We might have been able to help.” The full story here is too long to share, but the message was loud and clear.

In more recent times I took an engagement with another distribution company. They had been in business for more than 70 years, founded and led for most of that time by someone with a military background. His style was predicated on the principle of “need to know.” Communication within this company was woefully lacking. No one truly knew the mission and goals for the overall organization, had no idea as to the company’s successes and failures, and generally went about their business with their “heads in the sand.” Any wonder they were struggling?

What is communication like in your organization? Are there regular company state of the union addresses? Are there regular meetings within and among departments? Five-minute standup meetings? How often is feedback given and/or received regarding employee performance?

I have always been a big advocate for sharing information. Goals and objectives. Mission statements. Financial performance. On and on. If full and open communication is not part of your company’s culture, help to shift that culture and foster more openness. It will lead to improved morale, increased productivity and a more enjoyable work experience.

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