Stop, Drop, & Assess: Is Your Company Sending Mixed Signals?
Sending mixed signals to employees and customers during a recession is "organizational suicide," according to international business consultant Dr. Rich Schuttler. In a personal interview, he stressed, "With increasingly frugal customers and shrinking operational budgets, complacent organizations rapidly become obsolete." (personal communication, March 25, 2009).
The jolt of the stock market crash of 2008 forced business leaders to realize how dramatically every industry changed. Banks stopped lending and people stopped buying. Businesses discovered that mediocre performance no longer cuts it. "In a competitive marketplace, lack of coordination between employees and supervisors spotlights problems to customers," Schuttler said. "Tight-fisted customers no longer tolerate bumbling organizations that can't get their act together."
Stop, Drop and Assess!
When facing decreased productivity and/or sales, it is critical for organizations to take the time to assess workers' performance. One option for organizations is the Supervisor Leadership and Communication Inventory (SLCI), co-authored by myself and Dr. Schuttler. The SLCI is a diagnostic instrument designed to assess and predict employee performance. ("Ready…" 2009). Dr. Judith Kaplan, a Director of Quality and Risk Management, indicated that the SLCI helps businesses "assess and prevent potentially disastrous communication breakdowns." Likening the instrument to the Myers-Briggs inventory that identifies individual traits, Kaplan said the SLCI "assesses organizational communication traits—empowering organizations to harness the correlation between leadership and team member performance" (Schuttler, 2008).
Get a quick reality check of your organization's performance using these questions based on the SLCI:
Do your employees…
- Lack discipline?
- Disregard policies and procedures?
- Struggle without clear direction?
Do your supervisors…
- Micromanage employees?
- 'Fight fires' rather than proactively working to prevent problems?
- Depend on 'gut instinct' when making decisions?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, your organization is not operating at peak performance.
The SLCI collects data from employees, supervisors and senior leaders then plots a performance profile for the organization (Schuttler, 2008). Using a stoplight metaphor with red, yellow and green zones, a scatter plot of workers' perceptions classifies the organization into one of three performance categories:
Green = Proceed
Continue, but remain aware of potential hazards.
Yellow = Caution
Diagnosis is needed before problems spread to other parts of the organization.
Red Zone = Danger
System-wide intervention is needed to identify high risk factors.
The SLCI has been tested in six empirical studies, offering organizations a validated strategy to identify areas of 'disconnect' between senior leaders, managers and employees. Data is collected online, offering business leaders a confidential, convenient and cost effective approach to proactively check the vital signs of their organizations.
An upcoming edition of the Journal of Nursing Management, an international peer reviewed publication, reports the results of a SLCI study conducted at a large hospital. Plotting empirical data from 51 interacting health care professionals, a significant correlation was detected between supervisor communication and employee performance. (Rouse, 2009)