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Problem Solved: Real People … Real Leadership Solutions, June ’09

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Say it face-to-face

"E-mail has become a bottleneck to communication. All too often, I see someone struggle for 20 minutes on the computer to describe a situation for the person in the office next door. Even worse, the question only requires a 'yes' or 'no' answer!

"I recently experimented with my own 30-day campaign against internal e-mails. I announced that I would not accept any e-mails from my own staff. They would have to contact me face-to-face or via telephone. The result: Our communications are better, projects are moving faster and my relationships with my direct reports have improved.”

— Randy Smith, Forum Systems Group, San Antonio

Cogs in a big wheel

"We developed a skit to visually indicate how credit, sales, delivery and service flowed. It clarified our processes and gave everyone involved a mental boost. We divided up the different processes and as the work flowed, individuals were pinned with a ribbon printout stating their name and which part of each process they worked on.

"Each process had a different colored ribbon. The result was that many individuals realized not only which cog they were in the big wheel, but how many times their efforts moved along the completion of a sale and how many different departments they touched.

"Then we put each individual’s paper “ribbons” on a real blue ribbon and hung them outside his or her workstation. Not only did they realize the magnitude of their contributions, but the wisdom of cross-training and the appreciation we all had for their multitasking.

"Visually displaying their tasks also helps new management go to the correct person for assistance when necessary, and clarified for me exactly how things move through the company. This has opened our eyes to some step reductions and some opportunities to double-check things for accuracy.”

— Nora Holzwart, Northeast Photo Copy, Appleton, Wis.

New trick keeps top talent

"Many of us start companies and nurture good talent only to see them leave or go out on their own. To engender loyalty among high-flight-risk employees, establish an executive committee that meets biweekly or monthly, and allow the stars to become members after a designated period.

"This practice works best when you attach prestige to this committee, allowing members to have real input into the company’s direction. Your talented employees will feel ownership of the company if they are consulted on executive-level decisions, and you will have a sounding board for your ideas and decisions.”

— Jenny Bass, Essve Tech, Inc., Atlanta

Leave ‘early’ for vacation

"For a scheduled vacation, remove yourself from your normal daily tasks and supervision before you actually leave the office (i.e., “leave” on your vacation a week early). This flushes out any latent problems that otherwise might not surface until you were halfway around the world and less likely to be able to deal with them.”

— Jack Goncalves, JMCC Cleaning and Maintenance Services, Toronto, Ontario 

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Excerpted from Tips from the Top®, a publication written by business-owner members of The Alternative Board®. To learn how TAB can make a bottom-line difference in your company, visit TheAlternativeBoard.com.

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