P.S. – “I Love You” and Other Forms of Communication

When I ran Human Resources for the drug distribution side of  McKesson , prying 15 minutes from a distribution operating shift for employee communication basics was like taking bear cubs away from their parents.

Why is this important to you? Because the lessons McKesson supervisors learned should inform the communication practices of anyone who manages people from senior execs to first line supervisors.

In an organization (McKesson) that at the time valued efficiency and had forgotten about its twin, effectiveness, it was a small critical step to increasing productivity through the soft side of better communications = better performance.

So through charm, some clout, and more than a little nagging relentlessness, shift managers grudgingly took time to meet as a group with their crews.

And what secret formula was dispensed that had people forgetting what the fuss was about 6 months later? Managers were scripted to cover the following items with their work teams in 15 minutes:

  1. Here’s what’s up for today’s operations
  2. Here is what’s unusual (people out sick, new employees, people in different roles, visitors – invited guests, opening orders, etc.)
  3. Here’s feedback on some challenges that have occurred recently – if overcome, how – if not overcome, ways that have been attempted
  4. Here are the things that have worked well – how did it happen that it worked well, what was learned
  5. Here is stuff that is coming down the pike – not tonight – but things to have on your radar (store openings, shift in delivery routes, likely seasonal shifts, new hires or terminations upcoming, vacations, etc.)

P.S. – (And don’t forget) Thank you for your hard work.

Why does this approach work? Because – and while the timing and frequency will be different for different groups and different levels (maybe the trading floor daily, the research lab weekly, and the location managers monthly) – this script met the operations crew with the information that was most important for them to be successful in their job when they needed it.

Those five thing elements (1-what’s up now, 2 – here’s what’s unusual, 3 – here’s some challenges that have worked out – or not, 4 – some things that have worked well and here’s how they did it, and 5 – here’s stuff coming down the pike) work for any setting.

There is chronic temptation for managers to want to make things sexy and interesting, and perhaps avoid what seems to be boring. Think, on a macro scale, of all the “flavor of the year” campaigns that attempt to jazz things up but seem to seldom stick.

The reality is that it’s not boring for subordinates to receive distilled information makes their work easier. While the message might be repetitive, the information is essential.

You can iteratively do nothing but the above outline and you’ll be miles ahead of most people.

Last, it seems hard for some people to believe but it helps some people to folks express their appreciation. It does not have to be highly creative – it does have to be authentic. Like the spouse / partner who appreciates hearing “thank you”, employees like to be thanked for their hard work as well.

So the P.S. was to remind people to thank their folks.

More to come.