As a manager, our fundamental tool to get things done is communication. All day we communicate either by email, voice, hand signals, body language, gestures, eye rolling, big sighs, little sighs, body order, you name it the list can go on and on. This is how we get things done.


On the other hand, when employees are asked: “what is the biggest problem in your organization?” It seems that communication is at the top of that list of concerns.  It may be true.  As you now, Perception is Reality. If the employee (culture) feels as if communication lacks for whatever reason then it is true. It does not matter how hard you try or how consistent you are but if the employee does not receive the message then in their eyes it is a problem.

How do we ensure that what I am saying is being filtered down to the employees?

Here is what you can do:  Conduct a Skip Level

A skip level is where you as a manager “skips” over the supervisor to ask specific questions to the employees. As a manager, it is not a good practice to have production or performance conversation with an employee without the supervisor present or aware that you are there. From time to time it is O.K. but not good as a practice. You eventually loose trust in the supervisor when you begin managing their employees and especially when you begin making decisions at the supervisor level.

Nonetheless, the skip level allows you to “spot” check the level of communication that is flowing to the employee.

Here is a way on how to use the skip level:

  1. Inform your supervisors that you will schedule some skip levels. Make sure you explain the process and your expectations. Depending on the number of supervisors you may have, once a month would be good. If you have a way of incorporating this process into something that is already happening, do that.
  2. On the day of, you can either take the supervisor or not. Pick one or two employees that are average players. No need to ask everyone.
  3. Have specific questions regarding what you have already communicated to your supervisor.
    • What is the goal?
    • What is the expectation?
    • What is change is happening?
    • What company information do you know currently?
    • What are top barriers what we focused on as a group?
    • What has the group done well?
    • Any other question that should validate your overall message that you think is important.
  4. Once complete, provide feedback to the supervisor and coach to close the gap.

If you feel that the flow of communication is sufficient, no worries. Just continue the process. However, if there is a gap my recommendation is to use an agenda to help the supervisor capture your communication and then communicate that to the team. Another recommended is to have the supervisor improve or start of shift huddle meeting with the agenda. The organizes the flow of information from you, to the supervisor, and then to the team.

“Let the tool Drive the behavior”

In the end, you will see an improvement in the flow of communication if this process is followed. The goal is to ensure all employees are informed by the supervisor of what you, as the manager, have communicated.  Make it Happen!

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