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Easytraining News Excerpt ISBN 1499-8076  Vol.1, No.21

Management Communications
in the Workplace

July 7th,  2003 - © Copyright    2003 Claire Belilos


CHIC Hospitality Consulting Services
http//www.easytraining.com/barnea.htm
Excerpt from
Easytraining Newsletter


Recently I started editing and re-writing all previous issues, which I plan to compile in book form.  I saw that when you re-read after a certain time, you find you have to add some more to what you had written, or maybe change entire paragraphs to communicate a message.  When we write, it is not only information, ideas or instructions that we put into words but we create different worlds, e.g. beauty, entertainment, education, rapport (speaking heart-to-heart and mind-to-mind), affecting souls and the entire being of the reader.   This also goes for corporate and organizational communications. People who publish (articles, books, plays) re-read their work a few times, edit, change or refine ideas.  Usually they hire an outside party (editor) to brush it up professionally.  

Let us pause for a moment and wonder about our communications in the workplace.  Are they clear?  Maybe too harsh?  Too dry?  How are they perceived?  Are they accepted or rejected?  Do people give a hoot about what we say?  Do we accomplish our goal?  

I know, from experience, that we do not examine our communications in the workplace with the same critical eye with which we examine other types of written messages, such as published articles, books, government communications and rulings.

What should we do when we want to issue new instructions?  Should we invite people representing mixed organizational ranks for a “relaxed” meeting and read to them what we wrote so they could critique or to enable us to test the ground?  

My very first boss in Tel Aviv Hilton, Mr. Moshe Barnea, used to invite me to his office and read out to me some draft he had written.   I used to comment, excusing myself for commenting.  Sometimes I said it was not clear, or that I couldn't understand the message and purpose of the communication, or that I thought it may lead others to take it amiss, and so forth.    

Those who knew Mr. Barnea, who unfortunately died in a car crash a few years ago while on travel, wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he was delighted at having my feedback, urging me not to “hold back” and especially not to excuse myself.   He said “I need this.  You are my testing ground.  If it is not clear to you then it won’t be clear to others”. But Mr. Barnea was a very unique person.  So unique, in fact, that the Hotel Managers Association of Israel created the Moshe Barnea Award of Excellence in his memory.  I get goose-pimples just writing this - it is hard for me to speak of him in the past and realize again that he is gone.  

Because his primary consideration was for “others” and he cared how they felt, everything he said or did expressed his outlook.  He saw no clash between humanity and being decisive.  If an occasion called for dismissal, he took this step but not before fact-finding and soul-searching.  He examined all facets, all the pros and cons.

All department heads and employees loved him.  They did not just “like him”, but really loved him and held him in the highest regard.   

When there was something of importance to communicate, he took the time to meet with department heads to explain the matter and convert them to this cause.  Then it was their turn to carry on the communication to employees.  He often attended such departmental meetings, inviting questions and comments. Because of his style, department heads behaved likewise.  I suppose that this is what we call the democratic process.   He took comments into consideration but, because he was so thorough, there was usually nothing that he had not already covered or considered.  

He always smiled and thanked people.    Even now, so many years after his death, as I now write about him, his face bears a broad smile right in front of me.  No-one who knew him ever thought of him as cross or scolding (though there were a few such rare occasions).  What did really upset him was dishonesty, which was a thing he could never accept.  Everyone learned, soon enough, how high his standards were.  

I do not know how he managed to remember the names of all employees and become acquainted with their marital status, names of children, aspirations, financial condition, personal problems, and all what goes with establishing first-hand rapport with people.  He had an open door policy but people used this only for important organizational matters.  However, if someone's work took him (or her) near his office, that person always popped in a smiling head saying "Shalom, Mr. Barnea" and he would invariably smile back with a "Shalom, how are you?" and each would continue with his work.  Maybe it was his friendly attitude, the feeling of trust and respect people had for him and the fact that he was always circulating (“walk-around manager”) that enabled him to establish this rapport with everyone.

He issued written directives only when a new policy or operational procedure was needed (we had a policy manual and a standard operating procedure manual per department).  He believed more in face-to-face communications. Policies and procedures (or their revisions) were distributed and posted where needed.  He never issued memos or instructions with regard to tardiness, performance shortcomings or any of the other woes we see in organizations.  He had the human resources department call the person in question to discuss the matter. If the problem disappeared this was not even recorded formally.  

He sometimes asked, with a smile, the person involved, “What’s happening? Do you have problems?  Why have you been coming late?" or "Why are you so distracted at work recently?”    People would just feel ashamed and promise that this would never happen again.  If they said they had a serious problem at home or with finances he would invite them to his office, shut the door, and listen.  Then he tried to give them some helpful advice and tips.  

People did not abuse his kindness.  He was hardly ever disturbed by others. They told each other what he had recommended or given as direction and learned from each other.

Executives may say:  Who has time for all this?   Well, Mr. Barnea, because of his high human values, did find time.  Actually, his attitude caused him to have much more time than some executives who are hardly aware of their people and who frequently find themselves with serious performance and labor problems.

When Mr. Barnea took time to listen to one employee, ALL employees knew that they were important to him as “persons”, people in their own right, and that he did not view them only as a means to achieve sales and accomplish pure business objectives.  He saw us all as part of a big family and that we all had a share in the hotel’s success, and we all converted to his view.

His legacy and guidance has been and is being carried over by the many who were lucky to work with him and for him.   The circle widens.  I really do not know how my approach and view of management, operations and employees would have been had I not worked so closely with Mr. Barnea.

Although young, he was recognized as a giant in the field of tourism in Israel. He was sought after by all and sundry in the outside world, including the press and government officials.

He also taught us problem-solving.  When there were issues to deal with,  he taught us how to use our minds, consider all perspectives, and find the best solution.  If a solution was presented by someone else, he enthusiastically adopted it, applauding the person who suggested it.  He just had no ego.  He focused on what had to be done and the people who were entrusted with doing it.

Union leaders considered it an honor to meet with him and they were “high up in heaven” (a modern Hebrew expression) when he invited them for lunch where they could have a leisurely talk about matters other than the organization and its workers.   Everyone enjoyed his personal self.  He found something humorous in any situation.  (I must remind myself of this when feeling overwhelmed!)

He gave us all our due.  I regret most bitterly that, back then, when I was so young, I did not ask him for a letter of reference before leaving for the opening of the Brussels Hilton.  I wonder what he would have written and how he would have said it.  Now that he is gone I would have cherished it above all others. Not only because of the high esteem in which I hold him, but also because he was so truthful.  He would never “embellish” for the sake of others or because it was the accepted thing to do.

How many of us can claim to be so well-thought of by everyone who touched our professional lives?   

Reverting to communications  Do you find yourselves issuing many memos, directives, warnings, rulings?  Are they all necessary?  Even if they are, do you have at least one other person read them and comment on them before distribution?   Do you yourselves ever re-read them after a lapse of time to see if they were really necessary or if the matter could have been handled differently?   Do you find yourselves re-writing the same instructions again and again?  Is it not proof something is amiss in the mode of communication?

Please write back your feedback on this subject, even giving some examples at
http://www.easytraining.com/contact.htm (we stopped carrying our email on this site because of spam.  We do not share or sell addresses or details of our contacts.  Please indicate which article or service you are writing about.  Thank you.  It is the “sharing of experiences and thoughts” which we all enjoy.  

I hope that this short newsletter issue touched some important point and that you continue to like the free-style, free-thought nature of this means of communication.

So many write to me asking for games and tips for employee motivation. The above is a pure example on how to motivate an entire organization!


Thank you.

Claire

July 7th,  2003 -  
© Copyright  2003 Claire Belilos

ISSN 1499-8076 - This publication is registered with the National Library of Canada and is published by

Claire Belilos, CHIC Hospitality Consulting Company
Practical Solutions, Training and Human Resources Strategies
http//www.easytraining.com
#2007-1011 Beach Ave., Vancouver, B.C. V6E1T8

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