Innovation Junkies Podcast

Critical & Consistent Channels of Communication

The Jeffs discuss the importance of prioritizing communication. They talk about avoiding common failures linked to poor meeting practices, establishing weekly standup meetings to go over projects and needs, the importance of celebrating & recognizing wins in an organization.

Jeff Standridge (Intro):
Are you ready to change the trajectory of your business and see massive improvements? Each week we’ll share strategies and practices to generate sustained results and long lasting success in your organization. Welcome to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

Jeff Standridge:
Hey guys, Welcome to another episode of the Innovation Junkies Podcast, I’m Jeff Standridge.

Jeff Amerine:
Hey, and this is Jeff Amerine, glad to be back.

Jeff Standridge:
Hey, it’s a good day in the neighborhood, man. Sun’s shining, temperature is not too hot, it’s looking great.

Jeff Amerine:
Ready for some cool weather. It seems like we’ve been on the surface of Venus this summer.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. Hey, one of the challenges that I know that you and I have seen in organizations is inconsistent communication, inconsistent instruction, the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. Today I’d like for us to talk about how does a leader, regardless of the size of the organization, regardless of whether they are CEO of a small company or CEO of a large enterprise, or they are a senior executive within the company, how do they create critical and consistent channels of communication so that ambiguity is removed from an organization?

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, I mean it’s a great topic and it’s one of those sort of fundamental things that is fairly easy to implement and it can have the most significant impact. And so as an example if you really want to avoid those failures that are typically linked to poor, inconsistent, incoherent communication and poorly run meetings the number one thing you can do, very straightforward, is to establish a regular weekly meeting, a standup.

Now I part company a little bit here with Gino Wickman, his process and traction would say meet for 90 minutes and be very focused on problem solving. Most organizations don’t have the discipline in my judgment or the attention span to do an effective 90 minute meeting every single week focused on problem solving. But if you do a weekly standup meeting, kind of like we do, which is typically 15 minutes and it’s a quick go round, that can be a good checkpoint so that everybody in the organization understands what’s being scheduled, what the projects are, and what the issues are that need to be resolved. It’s just a super good way to begin when you’re trying to put that necessary infrastructure in place to be better communicators.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. And the whole concept of a standup is it’s going to take 10 or 15 minutes and anybody can stand up for that length of time, and standing up generally creates a sense of urgency. One of the things that I did back several years ago I found this little piece of, I don’t know if it was an Excel macro or something, where I could put in the estimated annual salary of everyone in the meeting and then I could hit kind of start and it would pull up this gooey clock, basically like a clock, for every minute it would add a dollar figure for the amount of money that was being spent in that particular meeting. And so we could literally just watch $2,000, $2200, $2,500, and it was a fun thing and it had this sense of urgency, this “oh crap, we’re spending $4,000 on this meeting, did we get anything done?” So not just having meetings to have meetings, but having regular weekly and consistent meetings in order to make sure that things are on track.

One of the other things that I do on a weekly basis is I have regular one-on-one meetings as well, and it happens every Monday and it follows the same agenda. I say look, we come in, we sit down and I say, “Hey, how was your weekend? And we just kind of get caught up with one another personally. That might take 5, 7, 10 minutes because we generally have, we like to share stories and we’re interested in each other’s lives, but then it’s always their agenda. Whatever they have on their agenda that’s what we’re going to cover first. If we have time at the end we’ll cover my agenda but the more we’ve done this the more that I’ve learned that we get to know each other and everything that they bring up they cover 90% of the things that I had anyway.

Jeff Amerine:
So good. I mean, it is one of those simple things that back in the dark ages, the 1980s, I think it was probably… it was one of the thinkers, management thinkers would call it management or leading by walking around. And it is just making yourself available and listening and engaging. And we spend so much of our lives at work or engaged with the people we work with in some ways you need to treat them like family and you need to be interested in what’s happening and just being a good listener and regularly touching base with them makes a whole lot of difference.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah, absolutely, it works beautifully. The other thing that it does is throughout the week when things come up they are empowered then to make a decision. Well is this something that I need to take to Jeff now or can I just put it on my list for Monday morning? Or they say is this something I need to bring up to Jeff Amerine and Jeff Standridge now or can it be discussed in our weekly meeting Monday afternoons? And so then they’re able to make that decision. And the vast majority of the time they say you know what, this can wait. Well I’ll just bring it up to them next week. So that I know when they text me or call me during the middle of the working day they need me for something. This is important because I know they’ve made that decision. So we can have regular weekly standup meetings as a group, regular weekly, one-on-one meetings with direct reports. The second is in those meetings, and you talked about this, having some round robin updates so that everyone kind of has at least a thumbnail sketch of what everyone else is doing.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah. Gus Pagonis who was famous, he worked for General Schwarzkopf during the first Gulf War, and when he left the military he was a senior leader, I think he was president of Sears Logistics for a while. And he implemented this, he said it was laborious how long and unorganized and unproductive their meetings were at Sears. So when he came in he did this regular standup and he literally made everybody stand up. And part of the round robin was “give me three good things and three bad things that happened”, and that’s all they reported on. And ostensibly the three bad things were areas where the performance wasn’t met and maybe they needed some help. And it’s a great way to think about it. And each one of them had less than five minutes to report on their specific area so the whole meeting, if you had four or five reports, was 15 to 25 minutes max.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s good, that’s good. And then we have celebrations and recognitions. This is a great way to reinforce the core values of the organization when we celebrate great things that have happened and we recognize and celebrate individuals who have done something that embodies the culture of the core values of the organization. And I know you lead that in our discussions on a weekly basis.

Jeff Amerine:
Every week. Every week it’s something we do and we try to do it with discipline. It’s like do we have things to celebrate or people to recognize and call on? Anybody in the organization can call someone out and we always have top of mind our core values. Things like who did the right thing, who did something where they got something done and there was no excuse? Who went the extra mile? Who’s taking care of customers? And one of our core values is having fun. So I think recognizing and celebrating those sorts of things reinforces that culture on a weekly basis so people don’t forget why you’re here and why it matters.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. One of the other things that we talk about is the issues for the long term greater good of the organization. We say all right, where do we have issues? Where do we have things that need fixed? What’s going on? And we talk about those on a regular basis too, it’s always helpful.

Jeff Amerine:
Yeah, absolutely. Raising those sorts of things. And that’s also where anybody can kind of look for a lifeline or can look for group help, not just from the leader but from any other colleague that might be able to help them through an issue.

Jeff Standridge:
Yeah. And then obviously projects or priorities where assistance is needed, right? So here are the organizational issues that we need to talk about, something’s not working right, and oh by the way here’s where I have a project and I need some help from you folks.

Jeff Amerine:
Absolutely. And all of this stuff leads to… And it’s simple. I mean these things are so incredibly obvious, but where organizations fall down pretty often is not having the discipline to do this on a regular basis. It just has to become part of the habit and when it becomes part of a habit, organizations, things are not failing because of lack of information or lack of awareness because everybody’s communicating.

Jeff Standridge:
That’s right. Good stuff, good stuff. So critical and consistent channels of communication in the organization, how to create them, how to maintain them, how to do them with excellence. It’s been another episode of the Innovation Junkie Podcast, thanks for joining.

Jeff Amerine:
See you next time. Feedback from listeners like you helps us create outstanding content so if you like this episode be sure to rate us or leave a review. Also don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest growth and innovation strategies. Thanks for tuning in to the Innovation Junkies Podcast.

Change The Trajectory Of Your Business

Our GrowthDX package has been responsible for massive improvements in many companies. Some thought they had it figured out but had blind spots, while others knew they were missing the mark but had no idea where to start.

This is your chance to make significant breakthroughs in your organization. Don’t miss out!