Blog Article Written By: Ray Attiyah, Chief Innovation Officer
Think of the closest, most valued relationships in your life. What are the characteristics of those relationships? Respect? Trust? Appreciation? Now consider what moves a relationship to the point of respect, trust and appreciation? Typically, it’s a foundation of open and honest communication. Like atoms are the building blocks of matter, open and honest communication is the building block of any solid relationship.
Open and honest communication in our businesses has many advantages, including teamwork and leadership development. We have focused on Bilstein of America’s success in previous posts. At Bilstein, a story of a specific middle manager demonstrates some of the benefits.
Hendrik Walde is Bilstein’s manager of materials and logistics. In 2009, at the beginning of the company’s Transformation EAGLE initiative, Hendrik was frustrated by discrepancies between the parts inventory in the warehouse and tallies in his SAP system. The reason was a myriad of intra-departmental communication problems. Hendrik’s discovered small problems in each department had snowballed into a logistics mess that decreased productivity and delayed orders. Each department was placing the blame on the other, neglecting to take responsibility.
The solution started with daily meetings that brought the departments together to take an honest look at the day’s problems. With everything out in the open, the whole group began to see where breakdowns were occurring and where improvement was possible. Individuals began to take responsibility for solutions and new procedures were developed collaboratively and put into place. Hendrik realized he had to carefully communicate the benefits of the new steps to assure compliance from the team. His candid approach worked. The workers were motivated to follow the procedures, the inventory was accurate, parts supply problems were reduced and productivity increased.
With the daily headaches are out of the way, Hendrik had the time to focus on developing an innovative add-on to the SAP software, streamlining the systems of the entire materials and logistics department.
We started this conversation with a question about your personal relationships, but business relationships are important too. How do you communicate with your peers? Customers? Suppliers? How does your company communicate with the external world? Is there trust, respect and appreciation?