It used to be that when Ben Morey, president of Morey Construction in Long Beach, Calif., wanted to share information with his staff, he'd do what many of us do: He'd write a memo.
There was rarely any follow-up. Morey thought that if the information was distributed, it was read and absorbed. But he eventually realized that this system wasn't working. New processes weren't being followed, mistakes were being made, and new policies weren't understood.
Plus, the management team at Morey Construction had recently embraced open-book management, which created a particularly compelling need for effective communication. “To make open book work, everyone needs to understand the company's financials,” Morey says. “And that kind of technical training wasn't going to happen by memo.”
Morey began holding monthly company-wide meetings and, he says, “The results have been amazing.”
For example, now, critical information is remembered. Morey says, “The information that is shared in a face-to-face meeting is retained much more than all the written material that our employees review on their own.” This increased retention means that policies and procedures are understood and used by everyone in the company.
It also helps Morey identify employees who really buy into the Morey Construction culture. “It's fascinating to see employees really get excited about learning more about the company. Now they ask questions about the financials and want to know more about how the company runs.” However, not all employees are so engaged. “At the meeting, it's easy to see if someone is not interested,” Morey says. “If they're indifferent to what's going on, it's an alert about that employee, and we quickly address it with him or her.” When it's time to decide which employees can handle more responsibility — and the pay that goes with it — Morey knows and can easily identify the players with the most potential.
Additionally, it's easier to delegate responsibility. “The meeting is where I verify and monitor that the tasks that have been assigned are actually being done,” he says.
Also, the employees feel like a team. “Instead of being individuals, they see that they are part of a group of people working together for the good of all,” he says. “They understand that their actions affect everyone else on the team.”
It's also a time to embed the company culture. Says Morey, “We talk about decision making and how our mission statement helps us make the correct decision for the situation. This gives us a chance to teach about the game of business in a way that relates to everyone and how we measure success or opportunity.”
The companywide meeting is held once a month during work hours. “We feel that this is important enough that it be done on the clock,” Morey says. “Some business owners feel that a meeting like this with all of the employees present is too expensive. We feel it's a small price to pay for the results that we've seen.”
—Victoria Downing is president of Remodelers Advantage, and co-author of Mastering the Business of Remodeling . www.remodelersadvantage.com; 301.490.5620.