The Forgotten 'C' - Communication
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”
-George Bernard Shaw
Businesses are primarily run by 3Cs, Consistency, Compass, and Communication. Companies have growth charts, performance metrics and strategies to track consistency and legal teams to make sure their compliance compass is pointing to the true North. However, they don’t possess the right processes to measure their communication. Communication is the most basic requirement of any business, small or large because a business is run through processes and by people.
The issue of communication is more pertinent to small and fast-growing companies with fewer people responsible for more aspects. Unlike large companies, startups house a small number of people. Hence, each hire has a dramatic impact on the culture and growth of the company. Leaders must take time to hire the right brains, but be quick at hiring them. The employees of a startup company should have the drive, not necessarily to climb the career ladder, but to learn, act, and most of all, be a part of the team working towards a common goal.
People in an organization must not only build products and processes but culture, a community for the people working together and eventually the company. Strengthening communication in an organization begins with the employee onboarding process. Startups face the biggest of their challenges when they hire new people during their high growth stages. Hiring new people or new skillsets requires them to adapt to the changing business ecosystem, especially in high growth startups. Every individual may have a different level of understanding of the larger business strategy and how his/her role could contribute to success.
Startups, therefore, must have a very strong employee onboarding process in place, including basics like the org chart, company mission, history, executive background, etc. Hiring managers must be clear with their expectations from new hires for a review period, say 30-60 days. The human resources team must clearly explain the specifics of the point of contact for any employee queries, how new hires must address their reporting managers and how polite and assertive their business communication should be.
In order to operate a successful startup, leaders must communicate their organizational structure to their employees. They must decide on the extent of hierarchy in their organization. On the other hand, a flat organizational structure entails being accountable for the tasks to the whole team, having a say over how processes are set up, and discussing jobs democratically as a group. In a flat structure, communicating the effects of business growth and changes must be aligned with the culture of the company. Startups must communicate as a single team of efficient and effective professionals. This is achieved by making sure that some jobs are completed in teams.
By working, thinking and communicating like a team, employees of a startup can add transparency to the way business is managed. As companies grow in size and complexity, the pool of communication widens, increasing the chances of information slipping through the cracks. Leaders, therefore, must build a transparent ecosystem and over-communicate the company’s core vision to the employees. It is always important to keep employees aware of the bigger picture. This strategy enables the management to inject purpose in the performance of every employee, right from the inception of the company.
On the other hand, leaders must be very cautious of the confidential information, future business plans, and company financial information. There is a high chance for leaders to forget the role of support staff in the growth of their businesses. They form the backbone of company operations. Support staff must be educated with all the policies pertaining to invoicing, indemnification, warranties, limitations, confidentiality, obligations, etc and use it as a framework. If the services offered by a business fall under multiple regulatory aspects and the business has customers located in several countries, it is always safe to consult or hire a legal counsel. These particulars must be communicated to employees globally through the right communication pipelines.
During new process implementations, the top management must define success criteria and identify the sequence of events leading to success. Any process following the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound) approach is the most successful. New business strategies need the right stakeholders responsible for the performance metrics of the new strategy and adopting an agile methodology, thus driving redundancy and speed of execution. Regular review meetings with stakeholders will ensure bottlenecks are addressed and fixed before it is too late.
Sometimes, communication hurdles may slow down business processes. Streamlining internal communication through emails and regular trackers and decreasing verbal communication must be taught as a habit to all the employees. A strong and fool-proof internal communication enables a business-oriented outlook, reduces the amount of time spent on petty tasks and improves business strategy as a whole. The last and forgotten C hence fetches a great deal of growth to companies riding high on success!