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Communication - Letter vs. Spirit

Discussion in 'ISO 9001:2008 - Quality Management Systems' started by drgnrider, Dec 18, 2015.

  1. drgnrider

    drgnrider Member

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    Having a "discussion" with management over our "employee communications".

    Monthly, I post charts showing our progress towards each of our ISO objectives, (3 each: QMS and EMS). We also have the policy and objectives posted all through the facility, including in the bathrooms, at eye level, can't miss them. Additionally, each department has their own communication boards, (EHS, productivity, charged overtime, absenteeism, etc.) that the department manager updates monthly with the department statistics.

    During a recent audit, I asked five employees (all different departments) what our objectives were and if they knew how we were doing towards meeting these. None could get the objective and its target together, they kept mixing the QMS and EMS information.

    When asked about how we are doing at reaching our objectives, two noted where the company charts were posted but couldn't say how we were doing as they "haven't read the charts". One, an area lead, went so far as to say "I don't read them because they don't help get product out the door." Another said "management does not stress these unless we are about to have an ISO audit" [our annual CB audits].

    Unable to locate a better definition of "communication", my "discussion" with management is:

    Yes, the LETTER of the standard has been meet… but has the SPIRIT of the standard?

    Just because it is posted on a board does not mean it is communicated, especially if management does not make an effort to occasionally discuss the results with employees and/or encourage them to read the information. When people say “it doesn’t matter because it does not get product out the door”, that says that there is not a lot of concern on whether employees read the posted information. I have overheard from a few people they have been informed to read these on their time.​

    Management's response:

    Ok, now what is YOUR definition of occasionally now. Can’t take what is said by some disgruntled as overall fact. Just saying…And I would disagree about board postings. EVERY employee knows that is how the main communication is done [emphasis added]. ON THE BOARDS is job postings, pay rates, etc..etc….They ALL look at it almost daily!​

    How do you define "employee communication"?
     
  2. Candi1024

    Candi1024 Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure how to answer, but quick meetings on a regular basis to briefly go over the communication on the boards is, in my opinion, very important.
    It could be at the start of a shift to review if we are ahead or behind on production, so resources could be moved around appropriately. This then plays out throughout the day as hourly goals are tracked by the employees, and managers respond accordingly.
    Could be weekly stand up meetings where objectives are discussed briefly, as well as what happened in the past week towards those and what will be done in the next week.

    In my opinion, the short frequent meetings are very valuable. But they need to stay focused on topic in order to ensure they are done quickly. As well as a time limit set.
     
  3. James

    James Active Member

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    We use a monthly meeting that has actual back and forth conversation with everyone, although we post metrics too. I'll bring up monthly scrap percentages and other things, but we also make sure to open things up for questions and give everyone a chance to give feedback. It doesn't guarantee everyone will remember the metrics when asked later, but it's real back and forth communication on a regular basis.
     
  4. Andy Nichols

    Andy Nichols Moderator Staff Member

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    Any "team huddles" to go over the stuff posted? I've experienced where management talk management stuff and post it, but it means nothing to the rank and file... Might need someone to actually lead them through the numbers, what they mean and then find what management post isn't much use to the folks on the floor...

    An example is that often (top) management talk "EBITDA" (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization), but how does that relate to the hourly paid folks?
     
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  5. MCW8888

    MCW8888 Well-Known Member

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    Everyday we have a 15-minute stand up meeting with supervisor and operators prior to start up of the work. We review issues that affect our activities that we monitor. We correct the problem right there and follow-up next day. Stand-up meetings are interactive. There is a board where we write all the action items to be reviewed next day. Supervisors gets these information and also have a stand-up meeting (less than 0.5 hour) with the Plant Manager to update how well the KPI is achieve. We get action items there too. Before the external audit we coach our employee to use these stand up meetings when ask how the quality policy means to us. Works so far.
     
  6. Qualmx

    Qualmx Well-Known Member

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    It's not enough to post info on walls/boards, the key it's to involve the responsibles of the departments/processes. In weekly/monthly meetings, they must inform to people under them regarding Policy, Objectives and so on, also to apply exams, in order to ensure people are aware of that, additionally from time to time and in the Management review meetings the management must insist about the objectives, policy, metrics, etc.

    That is the way I have managed this issue and it works for me.

    Hope this help
     
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  7. drgnrider

    drgnrider Member

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    Basically, in this situation, communication should be "active", (two-way), not "passive", (post-and-forget). This is what I am trying to get them to understand. In one of my leadership courses the definition of communication requires three parts, (dictionary only lists the first two): a sender, a message, and a receiver. If the employee (receiver) does not read the board, is communication truly being accomplished?

    While our posted charts are pretty simple to understand, if employees do not see management showing an interest more than once a year, they will not put much interest in it themselves. As for "team Huddles", the sections' weekly safety talks are not much more than 'here sign this, read if you want to, pass to the next guy'.

    Granted, short of testing that affects the paycheck, not much will ensure remembrance. Although, IMHO, active management involvement communicates that the data posted is important and should be reviewed; especially if the communication meeting is done at the board, even quarterly.

    Thanks everyone.
     
  8. Golfman25

    Golfman25 Well-Known Member

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    IMO it depends on who you are talking to. If you are talking to a department manager, then sure they should have better command with the metrics. If it is a machine operator, then expecting "remembrance" may be a little much as it is not their everyday responsibility. Part of the problem is we are "over metriced." So many charts and numbers. Then there is the case where department metrics conflict -- good for one is bad for another. To the average employee it becomes mind numbing. You should not need to be a Phd to figure it all out. When people don't really understand, they will move on with their daily obligations. So to me, a few simple metrics which can be directly linked to profitability is the way to go.
     
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  9. Nick1

    Nick1 Member

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    IMO it seems more like lack of management involvement. Management involvement is an important but one of the hardest requirement to measure within the ISO9001, it ain't an absolute figure. I believe that a serious discussion with your management is required to find out their involvement, though I don't know your relationship with them.

    ISO9001 is a great standard to get a company organised and structured. It seems like the management of your company just requires it for a customer. I believe it is your duty as the Quality manager to not only stay compliant but also show the management the real value of the standard and why it is more than just an obligation.

    I always introduced ISO9001 as a way to secure business continuity. Because processes are in place, people become replaceable which secures the company. What if an employee wins the lottery and does show up the next day? The processes should allow other employees to pick of the job relatively easy.

    This answer doesn't help on the difficulties with the communication but it seems that the management involvement isn't up the mark and that is where the real problem is. When you get the management more enthusiastic about the Quality management system you manage they will do the communication more actively.
     
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  10. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    Communication is only effective if the parties involved have some common language.

    You can show me the company's objectives and our progress towards them, but that doesn't mean I'll understand how it impacts me, what my role is, or even WHY I should care.

    As part of our annual planning strategy in a previous life, we would:

    • Define our objectives for the year (and the next 5 years)
    • Identify the KPIs and Control Items associated with the objectives
    • Use data and our knowledge of upcoming changes to develop targets (preferably control limits) for the company, the sites and the teams (working with site representatives for those last two)
    The end result was that a guy on the floor knew not only the metrics and goals, but how he actually influenced the results. He could tell you if his shift had a bad month and that's why the result went "red", but he could then tell you about some of the corrective actions being taken. People were actively engaged through open dialogue and discussion...and people cared about the results.

    I'm a firm believer in the WHY factor - "People don't buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it." (Simon Sinek) Sell me on why I could care and you've just engaged me. Bombard me with data that is meaningless and I'll tune you out.

    ISO has missed something quite glaring in the standard (in my opinion). The use of the word "management" - should be replaced with the word "leadership". In my experience, management is a reactionary level within the organizational hierarchy...leadership is out front driving the snow plow so that we can all get to work. :D
     
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  11. BradM

    BradM Moderator Staff Member

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    There used to be commercials where a woman would yell out "Hey, Culligan man"!! The commercials were louder than others. They were popular and increased sales; for a little while. Then... the commercials became less effective, because people just started turning down the volume when the commercials were on. :)

    that's good. However, until management explains its importance to the employees and how it matters to them; the policy and objectives can easily become extra "noise" to the employee. Note: that is not to imply the employee doesn't care or has a bad attitude. It just means those slogans have not been applied to them in the workplace; to make their job better or easier.


    Now... please don't misconstrue this.. I don't mean this mean in any way. But... why should your employees care about the objectives and the communication boards?
    • How does it affect their job?
    • Will they be getting raises?
    • How does it affect them?
    • Are they presented in an easily understood format (Pareto Chart; Control Chart; Bar Chart; etc.)?

    I guess... I'm not really addressing the standards requirements here. I think the others have done that. Yes, they were communicated. But... to me, all of that stuff is just wasting everybody's time if it is not 1) relevant to management; and then 2) management making it relevant to the organization.

    Think about this....
    Try to think of all the signs you are familiar with in a 10 minute walk through your facility. Then, walk that path and see how many signs are there; and what signs aren't. Our brain just gets so familiar with stuff it just glosses over them.

    If you can encourage your management to "lift" the words from the pages and bring it to life for your employees, I think it would make a positive difference regardless of any audit.
     
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  12. drgnrider

    drgnrider Member

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    ABSOLUTELY! There are very few human-robots, most want the "why", it gives them the sense of involvement/ownership/purpose!


    These are what I see and couldn't agree more... management/leadership has to make it important to them, not just posting their department metrics and walking away. I made the comment at management review that it has more weight coming from the manager than it does me... deer in the headlight looks all around! :(

    This method has only two parts of "communication (see earlier post), the receiver has to make the effort to read the message. Kind of like dropping leaflets... the only one guaranteed WILL pick them up is the clean-up crew.

    CB audit next month, so for the fifth year, I will bring everyone in a week before and remind them of the policy and objectives and how to deal with an auditor.... then try not to facepalm when they do talk to the auditor. o_O

    @RoxaneB - I think in 9001:2015 I will adjust our definition to include "leadership"... what they don't know.... :rolleyes:
     
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  13. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    By "them" do you mean management (I can't call them leadership based on your post ;-) ) or all staff?

    You could do the Auditor Interactions 101 lesson or...have some fun with it! Pretend you're the CB! Ask some sample questions...let folks support each other during the mock interviews. I do this during audit preps with new employees. It's awesome! It's also a perfect opportunity to find out if there are any wrinkles in the system - Person A does it one way and Person B does it another. What I usually observe during these group mock interview sessions is the team coming together and figuring out what is the right way, and they support each other, building off of their answers...it's like an all-encompassing training and morale booster session. :cool:

    I look forward to hearing how it goes...both the audit and the inclusion of 'leadership'.

    But, if you're interested in Simon Sinek's 'Why' approach and have 18 minutes to spare, here's the link to his TED Talks presentation.
     
  14. drgnrider

    drgnrider Member

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    @RoxaneB - thanks

    "them" is all shop employees, although invited/requested, managers don't attend o_O

    Management usually allows me 20-minutes per department, just enough time to say here is the policy, the objectives, this is where they can be found, don't babble when the auditor is writing, give straight answers, etc... any questions? - Blank stares all around - ... a week later cringe/facepalm during CB auditor asking questions.

    I will look at the presentation... but not at work... internet policies...
     
  15. RoxaneB

    RoxaneB Moderator Staff Member

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    20 minutes...well, it's communication. ;) But I think we've all agreed that a one-way flow, in a language that means little to the recipient may be lacking in effectiveness.

    What if you gave a hand-out of the policy, etc. - or showed it up on a board or screen - and asked people what it meant to them, or how they impact the policy/objectives? Still sparks some interaction and you may be able to use their answers as evidence that the current method of communication isn't necessarily achieving the desired results.

    And no TED access work?!?! :( I usually have one or two playing in the background while I'm work. Actually...*looks left and looks right*...just between us (;)) I have a file called "My TEDucation". In it, I list all the TED videos I have watched or want to watch and I score them based on relevance, impact and shareability (i.e., if I think others might like them). I'm such a geek! :rolleyes:
     

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