Hey guys, it’s Courtney, and I have a quick question for you. How well do you know your company? And more specifically, how well do you know the people of your company? Stop for a minute and think about your company’s ordering process. When a product or service is ordered, who takes the order, and then what’s the next step, and so on and so forth? Do you ever consider doing 1:1s with anyone outside of your team or department that you would communicate with during this process? I am not saying interview everyone in the company, but if you work in production, do you ever speak with anyone in sales or the office administrator to see how their processes work and how they impact yours? If you don’t, why not? And if you could, what types of questions would you ask these people and what kind of information would you give back?
Now, these conversations don’t need to be hours and hours long, but a quick 30 minute 1:1 would help connect these different departments and hear their frustrations and struggles. You in the office may be thinking, “Wow, I wish production would be moving a little faster. Whenever I am down there, all they are doing is standing around.” But, do the office employees know that every so often the equipment has to recharge itself or the equipment is so hot that 15-minute breaks are enforced so the employees don’t get overheated? Or on the other hand, people in production or down on the floor are probably thinking, “Ugh, those people in the office are so lucky. They get to sit in their offices all day in the nice air conditioning and just hang out.” But do they know that people in the office spend their day doing 10 different tasks at the same time, while constantly getting interrupted by people with phone calls, emails, questions or impromptu meetings? Try taking a look at someone else’s perspective.
Here are a few questions to get you started! And remember, listen with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply. And be sure to give them these questions ahead of time. Sometimes people need a little more time to think on them and don’t like to be put on the spot. So if they can answer them ahead of time, the conversation will go a little smoother.
The first question question could be, “Tell me a little bit about your department or area and what you do there.” This seems like a silly question. You work in the same company and you probably have a good idea of what their job entails. But their answer may surprise you. Ask them to walk through what a typical day would look like for them.
The next question could be, “What do you enjoy most about your position and what are the greatest challenges you face? Take notes, be sure to write things down that your area or department does to create challenges for them. If your department is taking customer orders, what pain points are you causing production when you pass along these orders? Is this process a smooth one? If something could change, what would that look like for your department and theirs?
Finally, ask them what questions they have for you? Maybe there are some things they don’t understand. Or maybe you can give some clarity on what your area or department does. Switch the roles. Give them what a typical day looks like for you and what challenges you face.
These are just some examples. You can use whatever questions you would like and what questions specifically fit your company. But be sure to make them open-ended. Don’t let them just say yes or no and then move on to the next question. Let them speak and let them get their frustrations out to you. By doing this, you won’t solving major issues within the company or every issue that arises. But small changes could make a big difference.
Understanding other work areas and having their work area understand yours can open up the communication lines greatly. So you can leave it how it is and hear the same grumbling and frustrations from every department or you can stop and think, “how can I make this better? How can we learn from one another and make the company better as a whole?”
So, what are you going to do?
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