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Don’t Assume They Know!

Don’t Assume They Know!

Gary Kunkle
Tugboat Institute
June 13, 2023

As I began working with several Tugboat Institute® members over the past year, I saw a pattern. Even the best run Evergreen® companies experience the same challenge: the need to routinely and clearly speak their Purpose and plan deep into their organizations.

Failing to deeply and clearly communicate is one of the most common opportunities for improvement from among the 50 growth practices covered in the Tugboat Evergreen Growth Training Series. Left unaddressed for long periods, this communication deficiency can significantly hinder organizational performance, eat away profits, and undermine the firm’s long-term full-growth potential.

Each day employees throughout the organization, down to the lowest levels, are required to make decisions. Many of those decisions require deviating from normal standard operating procedures, if there are any, and applying a bit of creative experimentation. A customer has a unique problem, a package needs special handling, there may be a better way to execute an important task. The CEO or President needs to be certain that when employees take such initiative, their actions and desired results are highly consistent with what their Evergreen company is striving to achieve and aligned with its Purpose and growth plan. Otherwise, employees are likely to make decisions and take risks that are not in the best interest of the enterprise. This causes entropy, which essentially means sub-optimal efficiency created by a significant variation between what is being done and what you want done for the long-run good of the firm. This can, in turn, destroy productivity, waste resources, and shrink margins.

The good news is that addressing this critical issue is fairly straightforward. Evergreen companies must focus on the core components of effective communication: clarity, frequency, and reach. The Purpose and plan must be clear, easily understood, and consistently reiterated to embed them into the collective memory. It is not enough for the Purpose to be hung on the walls and printed on t-shirts, although that might be a start. Purpose and plan, need to be discussed everywhere: annual meetings, team meetings, strategy offsites, the newsletters that go out, holiday events, etc. Remind, remind, and remind again. And they don’t just need to know what they are; they also need examples of what they look like in action, or how they play out in the activity of the team. From the first hour a new employee goes through on-boarding, they need to be enculturated with Purpose, and they must be reminded over and over throughout their working tenure with the company. These consistent and repetitive interactions cascade the message from the leadership team down to the lowest level employees.

Fortunately, implementing effective communication strategies does not require exorbitant financial investments. The primary costs are time and attention, particularly at higher levels of the organization. If your Evergreen company is small, this is the place to start. The potential returns on this investment are substantial.

To further enhance communication efforts, for Evergreen companies that are larger and have the means, hiring an experienced and dedicated specialist can be a prudent move. This individual would be responsible for managing and ensuring the consistent dissemination of these critical messages throughout the organization, thereby maximizing their impact. This step can set you on your way to removing one of the obstacles that stands between you and optimized Paced Growth.

The significance of effective communication in an Evergreen organization cannot be overstated. It bridges the gap between the executive leadership team’s strategic decisions and the decentralized implementation of those decisions throughout the company. By clearly articulating the company’s Purpose, as well as the growth plan, and continuously reinforcing them through conversation, companies can mitigate entropy, enhance productivity, safeguard margins, and significantly increase their odds of long term, profitable growth.

Is this a problem in your organization? Take the first step to find out; look outside of the leadership team and evaluate how well your Purpose is understood and brought to life by every member of your organization. Recognizing the importance of effective communication is critical to unlocking the full potential of Paced Growth, and fostering a culture of shared Purpose.

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