In marketing departments and elsewhere in companies, internal communication, collaboration and creativity are important, but often handled poorly.
One of the most frequent complaints I hear from professional colleagues and friends is that there is very little insight from senior management at their organizations into overall project objectives, or what senior management is planning – short term and long term. What’s more, I often hear questions about just how much real collaboration is taking place among senior management (as well as from managers with their employees), as well as questions around the overall creativity of senior managers and whether or not they have a strong set of core business objectives.
Much of this aligns to surveys I’ve seen over the years where employees often rate their managers and executives as poor communicators, and in some cases – a danger to the overall business objectives of the organization.
Interestingly enough, I read this morning (courtesy of Baseline Briefings) that the American Management Association conducted a skills survey of over 750 managers and executives in December of 2012 about the importance of: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.
Managers and executives in this survey reported that most of their employees were “average” in all four categories (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity) and that compared to data from 2 years ago the number of people who are “below average” in those skills increased.
Another data point in the survey that I found of interest was that managers and executives “believe” it is easier to “develop these skills in students and recent graduates (59.1%) than it is to develop them in experienced workers (27.1%).” The rationale is that younger workers have not developed their work habits. The study further reveals that one-on-one coaching is the preferred method to improve skills.
What Does This All Mean To Your Company?
There are a number of points a company can take from these two perspectives and the American Management Association survey. Here are some of mine:
1) Never assume you are communicating, collaborating, or harnessing creativity and critical thinking well at any level of your organization. One way to learn where you stand is to use direct communication, anonymous surveys and frequent team meetings. But do not make everything top-down. Allow your employees to receive anonymous survey results from senior managers and executives. Implementing an environment of near total transparency will enhance your business, improve working relationships and open up everyone’s eyes to what skills need to be improved.
2) Ask yourself, “What training do I have at changing work habits?” This applies to yourself and changing the habits of other people. Habit formation and modification is not something taught in college or in corporate America. But it’s also not something people as a whole are very good it. Millions of people try to eat better, exercise more, stay in contact with friends and family – all to see their bad habits resurface and take back control. And yet – modifying habits is an essential skill for success in business and in life. One of the reasons why managers are ineffective is that they do not know how to help their employees (or themselves) learn new habits to be successful. If you can improve this facet of your business, you will have a very positive impact on productivity, morale and retention.
Lastly, believe it or not, this is something at Colliding With The Social Web we can help with. While we do not have all the answers, we can help you build a better working environment. If you are interested, reach out to us today and we can discuss it in more detail.