Cooperation within companies has been and will be suspended by Corona audits. With the Collaboration 2021 study, Staufen and its subsidiary ValueStreamer GmbH explore the questions of how serious these audits were and what insights entrepreneurs can take away for the future. Andreas Romberg, Managing Director of Staufen Value Streamer GmbH, summarizes the results.
Too much poor communication
Andreas Romberg says he rarely receives more than 20 emails on a workday. This is due to a careful communication system. The management of Staufen AG customers sometimes had up to 600 emails a day – making efficient and error-free work impossible.
According to the Collaboration 2021 study, the high volume of emails has now become a serious problem in 70 percent of companies. The majority of emails deals with organizing cooperation. But that is not really what they are for – they were originally intended to facilitate the rapid exchange of information.
Andreas Romberg explains that communication in some companies is dysfunctional: not enough information is exchanged, and too many items are left unresolved in meetings. There is often a lack of clear objectives right from the start. Only afterwards do they notice that important information is missing.
Therefore, employees use emails and distribution lists for fine-tuning and making final agreements. However, there are always misunderstandings or contradictions, so as communication revolves around trivial matters, important matters go unnoticed and processing emails eats up a large part of the working day.
Corona brings problems to light
Corona has pushed digitalization in Germany forward by a decisive and long overdue step: infrastructures have been improved, more radio masts have been built, more lines have been laid, and the performance of data lines has also been improved. This is how the government reacted to the fact that numerous meetings all over Germany suddenly took place via Teams or Zoom.
Zoom and similar services are well suited for exchanging information, but a number of functions that would facilitate collaboration are missing: mostly tools for communication. Exchanging data and files, as well as jointly working on them, takes place with other tools, which themselves do not have communication features. This often leads to much getting lost along the way.
In the end, any tool is only as good as the person using it. During Corona, it became apparent that those who failed to develop a functioning communication system would continue to struggle with this problem. Meetings do not become more goal-oriented when they are held online. Therefore, managers have a duty to fundamentally improve communication within the company. However, working from home during the crisis does not make this task any easier.
Informal conversations are missing
In most companies, employees talk to each other in addition to working: They talk during their lunch break, over coffee or on their way to work. This allows them to confidentially exchange information. This kind of informal communication is not possible when working from home – and employers are feeling the effects: Teams are less connected and they no longer consult with each other as carefully.
However, this is not due to resistance, but solely because employees lack the opportunities they previously had. A brief exchange or quick reassurance – this now takes place via telephone or email. Delays occur, and depending on the volume of emails, some employees also overlook some messages or forget to respond.
Companies notice suffering performance
There are several very specific metrics that employers can use to determine if the company is doing well, namely
- Innovative ability
- Customer satisfaction
They can all break down if communication among employees, and especially from managers, is disrupted. Without precise goals, straightforward instructions, and clearly explained steps on how to reach the goal, day-to-day work becomes a nightmare: Employees have to hunt down the information they need and often spend far too much time trying to find out who is responsible for what in the project.
Deadlines and production targets are not met, quality suffers, and customers are not satisfied. Companies that were not optimally positioned and well organized in terms of communication before the Corona crisis are feeling the full force of failures as teams were split up through working from home.
Various levers for successful collaboration
Managers who realize the urgent need to improve communication within the company or their team can implement several approaches. What is helpful:
- Regular appointments – meetings that have a clear goal from the start. Here, colleagues keep each other up to date regarding planning and appointments, and they receive new goals every time – nothing is postponed, nothing is clarified behind closed doors.
- Tools that create transparency and make success measurable. If you can back up your communication strategy with the right data, you have sound arguments and can optimize your strategy at any time.
- Facilitation training – managers who take the reins too often and fail to facilitate meetings in a professional manner are not giving employees easy-to-understand, solid instructions. Facilitation training can remedy this and improve leadership.
ValueStreamer – a helpful tool for leaders
ValueStreamer from the subsidiary of Staufen AG is a tool that not only facilitates digital communication in companies and helps managers develop an appropriate strategy. It can be used to easily visualize important key figures and lists. The tool helps with data aggregation and sharing data with other systems.
The scope also includes numerous Shop Floor Management functions: They support managers in deviation management and enable commitment. Process control, feedback functions, T-cards and Go&Sees support management goals. In doing so, leaders are able to ensure good communication both at a distance and on site.
Emerging from the crisis with momentum thanks to good cooperation
Anyone who has noticed intensified difficulties in the company in the wake of the Corona crisis should take a closer look at their communication strategy. In almost all cases, there is enormous potential for improvement. Efficient, quick, and focused communication is the key to better work. This not only helps customers and employers, good communication and efficiently exchanging information also makes day-to-day work much easier for employees.
Canan Jungel, Project Manager, STAUFEN.AG
Andreas Romberg, CEO, STAUFEN. ValueStreamer GmbH