As important as it is for management to have a clear corporate identity and strategy, they can be rendered ineffective without a strong commitment to company-wide communication and a corresponding process to ensure its effectiveness.
Pen Fed Credit Union’s commitment to a strong communication process is the critical piece, the glue that enables their strategic alignment. CEO James Schenck and his managers have developed communication and feedback loops that make sure everyone is heard and knows the important information.
As the following diagram shows, James has a process for communicating routinely with all employees, not just direct reports and board members. He finds this process vital to helping formulate vision, strategy, and the strong strategic alignment found at Pen Fed.
The Strategic Communication Process at Pen Fed
|“I’ve found that constant communication with co-workers has been absolutely critical in my ability to create a vision, align resources and focus on the execution of a strategy.”“We have to ensure that everyone—from board members to line tellers know where the organization is going. This underscores the importance of constant communication.”
– James Schenck, CEO, Pen Fed Federal Credit Union
I have never had the pleasure of working for a large organization that had the same level of commitment to communication as Pen Fed. Their commitment and process seems so obvious and makes so much sense, and without it strategic alignment is truly impossible.
As I’ve mentioned before, misalignment results in hidden, or unrealized profitability, so in diagnosing your own institution for hidden profitability your communication practice is one of their first places to look. Wouldn’t it be great to unlock some of that hidden profitability just by developing a better communication process?
Look what James is doing. Nothing fancy, just emails, town hall meetings, and an open door. The point is, there is no great expense here. Improving your communication process and committing to it can provide no cost profitability.
The real question is, why don’t more companies adopt this model or something similar and commit to it? Why don’t more CEOs commit to this level of consistent communication?
We hear all the time how important communication is, but how many times do we say we’re too busy to commit to something regular? If we find ourselves saying this it is a sure sign that we don’t see the value in it.
James Schenck certainly sees its value. Do you?
- Outline your communication process, including feedback loops. Be sure to include direct reports, your board, front line and operations employees, and vendors.
- How often do you engage each constituency in your communication process, and how do you do it?
- What forums do you provide for your employees to give you honest feedback, and how do you make them feel safe doing so?
- Where might you have weak links in your communication process, and how will you fix them?
- Have each of your direct reports perform steps 1 and 2 above for their communication process.
- Have you matched the performance evaluations of your direct reports with their skillfulness and commitment to communication? If not, why?