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Organizational Information Sharing
CAN YOU HEAR ME
EMPOWERING THE WORKFORCE
Information sharing may be one of the most important managerial tools available to the organization. A workforce without the needed information to conduct their responsibilities, effectively and efficiently, can cost the organization a great deal of money. The lack of necessary and accurate information can inhibit workers or managers from being able to respond properly to many different aspects of their jobs. Real time decision making can only be effective if the decision makers have the necessary information to make informed and accurate decisions. In this competitive and information driven market it is imperative that organizational decisions are made timely and accurately. Information sharing can enable the work team to become self managed from the bottom up.
I believe that effective and efficient managerial activities begin with open communication, and that the line or ground level employees are better able to become self directed when provided with a framework of communication tools. I also believe that the best organizational structure or system is one that is managed from the bottom up. Of course, upper management must provide the needed tools, information, and the organizational direction of the company.
There are several good information sharing methods that i have found will better enable the work team to conduct their responsibilities and become more efficient, effective, and self-directed.
I will discuss what is commonly known as WIN (what is important now) boards, bulletins, stat sheets, computer networks, and departmental meetings. These I believe are a system of information tools, when used together, that will provide an organization with a more informed and self directed workforce. These communication tools will enable the workforce to conduct their job responsibilities faster and more effectively, eliminating in most cases the need for managerial intervention. Thus, giving management more time for strategic planning, all the while training, educating, and empowering the workforce with information. Often times employees feel more important, appreciated, trusted, and become more involved. They may even enjoy their jobs more. They often become more motivated and contribute more. In essence, in some cases, this information sharing may also represent a method of motivating and retaining employees.
What is Important Now (WIN) boards, when used properly, can be a very effective communication tool, especially when placed in each department for the line team to use. However, the WIN board concept is effective even in managerial settings. The board can be a chalk board or a white board, i prefer the white board. The size of the board will depend on the amount of information that the board will include. Generally, I would recommend a 2' x 4' board. This board can be used to identify inventory shortages, tool or equipment needs, maintenance needs, change orders, new procedures, prototype info, safety, departmental goals, housekeeping, cross-training needs, scheduled absences, action plans, and anything else that is deemed important to production. The WIN board should include a hit list, a list of of the most important issues to date. Each department should have it's own board because each department has it's own issues. If a problem is discovered the board can be a reminder to make employees aware of the problem that is occurring. The line manager or team leader can put important information on this board at the end of each day so that the following day the line employees can be aware of any needed information. Line employees can also use the board to communicate with their leaders, identifying materials they are getting low on, or defects, or problems that are affecting production. The WIN board should be reviewed everyday at the onset of work, during break, and at the end of the day before leaving to see if any new info will affect their production respnsibilities. Of course, there are issues that will require leaders or line employees to directly notify someone.
It is recommended that clip boards with bulletins, stat sheets, housekeeping evaluations, safety reports, quality control reports, and other notices can be attached to or just below the WIN boards.
Written bulletins or notices are a good tool to inform employees of changes in production schedules, prototype information, human resource issues, specification changes, or a great number of other things that effect the employee's production status. Bulletins are also useful to thank or praise employees and provide reminders.
Stat sheets can include defect measurements, repetitive errors/problems, scap reports, safety reports, quality measurements, and a number of other important reports. These stat sheets can help the employees identify work issues and help them implement solutions to these issues. It is imperative that these stat sheets are made available to the line employees and that they are discussed as a team to generate employee input.
Another communication tool that can be effective is a computer network between each department and the management team. Team leaders can keyboard in information from the department regarding material shortages, equipment needs, training needs, safety issues, staffing needs, and a large array of information that will enable the management team to understand departmental needs and structure an action plan to address any needs or issues. The management team can quickly communicate with each other to resolve matters. Inventory information can be maintained very effectively this way.
Departmental meetings are the linchpin of these communication tools. Leaders must meet regularly to discuss the information on the WIN boards and overview the information included in the bulletins, stat sheets, and any information that may have been communicated through the managerial computer network, or management meetings. The leader can effectively address the department from the WIN board with the clipboards posted below. The WIN board doubles as a presentation tool. It is here at these meetings that brainstorming and employee input will thrive. It is very important not to discount the ideas of the workforce, it is often the ideas that are not implemented that generate the ideas that are implemented. Also, praise the employees for their participation and reward when possible.
This system of communication tools is not inclusive, and it is the ideas of management and the employee base that will develop and characterize the content and usefulness of the system of communication used.