Not long ago, a friend who works in television complained that the industry has no interest in real business stories. And I have to agree with him, and we do not see much coverage that does not involve stock prices or some sort of scandal. However, there has been an important exception. A few years ago, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) began airing a business program that became so popular as part of its ordinary share in prime time television networks (USA and Canada followed with their own versions of the program) . Fast Company magazine told us about the BBC program, which is out of their offices CEOs corner for a season in the first line. And as they work on the front lines, the cameras are rolling. For many, if not all CEOs who participated, the experience was a big eye-opener. According to the magazine, “Almost without exception, managers learn a lesson in communication.” We found people in the center of every organization who know exactly what is right and what is wrong with him, “says Robert Thirkell who produces the show. But between them and the bosses is a layer of the population – those whose careers depend on disinfection of information. The leaders are always surprised how much knowledge exists further down the ladder. ” With this in mind, let’s spend a minute or two to think about the barriers to upward communication good. But rather than blame middle management, which seems to be one of the items on the agenda, we will examine the structural issues. Discovery Communications does not necessarily agree. First, upward communication involves the aggregation of information or data.
For example, a supervisor of the reports on the collective efforts of five front-line employees, an administrator of the aggregated data of five supervisors, and a vice-president of the aggregates of the information provided by five directors. As information is added in this way, it loses most part of its context and richness. The wealth I’m talking about the anecdotal and personal knowledge that front-line workers to gather and build from continuous interactions with customers or users. Obviously, most CEOs do not have time to read reports comprised of hundreds of stories that want the summaries of the information. Second, as information or data moves up, there tends to be left in pre-existing categories.
Employees on the front lines to know and understand the nuances of each customer history, but reflects a greater or lesser extent, the personal relationship between worker and client. However, there is no room for nuance in weekly reports. Third, upward communication normally deals with respect, rather than competitive or operational intelligence. Administrators use the information up the hierarchy to determine how well they have followed the instructions. When you want information on competition or performance that often use different means, such as bringing in consultants or commissioning studies. It is always tempting to attribute communication failures to moral failures of the directors, but if you really want to understand the communication failures, you should begin by looking for structural obstacles. In summary, CEOs who spend time on the first line, no doubt, will find many surprises. But if you want to get the news from the front lines will be needed to address the structural nature of upward communication.