Torque or Talk? The Importance of Communication in the Workplace
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Torque or Talk? The Importance of Communication in the Workplace

Torque or Talk? The Importance of Communication in the Workplace

Communication in the workplace is so important.

Here is some linguistic gymnastics to get your tongue around:

While you are promulgating your esoteric cogitations and promulgating your esoteric cogitations, articulating your superficial sentimentalities, your amicable philosophical or physiological observations, beware of platitudinous ponderosity.

Let your extemporaneous verbal evaporations and expatiations have lucidity, intelligibility and veracious vivacity without rodomontade or thespian bombast.

Sedulously avoid polysyllabic profundities, pompous propensities, setaceous acuities, ventriloquial verbosity and vaniloquent vapidities. At all times shun double entendre, observable or apparent.

How did you get on?  Confused about what it means?  Don’t worry – you won’t be the only one.  Try it on your colleagues and see what they make of it.

When you clear away all the jargon and the linguistic waffle, it simply means “Say what you mean, and don’t use big words!”

Feeling misunderstood?

Has there ever been an instance in your business where confusion or misunderstanding has happened, simply because the information, contract specifications, procedures, or instructions have been confusing or misunderstood?

As an example, I would like to share with you an incident that resulted in a costly non-conformance issue (plain speak – a very expensive stuff up!)

A young overseas worker was employed by a company to work in the assembly line. His job was to assemble a product with two components onto a frame by inserting and tightening eight screws with an air powered screwdriver.

Six months later, four white star cracks started to appear in the product, and complaints were received from clients in New Zealand and Australia because the products were showing signs of cracking.

As an act of good faith and its reputation in their competitive marketplace, the company undertook to make the repairs. This resulted in personnel having to take leave of their normal responsibilities and travel to the customer’s sites across New Zealand and Australia to replace the damaged component.

This was an expensive exercise in the region of $47,000 – this of course was not the final cost.

During the investigation into the issue, it was identified that it was the new overseas employee who had assembled the faulty products.

When he was questioned about the method to do the job, he stated that he was told by another employee (who had 10 years experience doing the same job), that he had to put in 4 screws to secure one part of the product, and make 20 units. He then had to attach the other component using 4 screws onto each of the 20 units. To do this, he was to change the torque, and that was all he was told.

When he was asked to demonstrate this, he did not change the torque on the air gun – in fact he did not understand what “the torque” meant.  He thought it meant that he could ask questions and talk to other employees if he needed help while he was doing the job. On further investigation, it was identified that a procedure had been set out on a board, but this was behind an assembly table and had never been used.

This very expensive mistake was due to:

  • Not checking on the employee’s understanding of English and industry terminology;
  • Not using the accepted procedure for training;
  • Not checking on the understanding of the training; and
  • The complacency of the experienced employee and not checking the employee during a trial run.

15 minutes of training could save you hours or weeks of frustration, the profit on a contract, or even your business!

Could a communication breakdown happen in your business?

We now have a multicultural workforce in NZ, as well as a literacy and numeracy problem (of 35-40%) in our current workforce – making communication in the workplace so important. This emphasises the need for clear, concise, and simple workplace procedures to eliminate a problem similar to the one described.

Safe systems of work (Refer to 2015 Health and Safety at Work Act S3.c) or safe operating procedures are now a statutory and compliance requirement.

They certainly are an effective risk management tool for any business to minimise:

  • costly mistakes;
  • accidents
  • waste;
  • downtime; and/or
  • rework and rejection of product.

The documented business systems become the intellectual property of the business, adding value.

The solution to getting it right first time

  1. Do your homework – check all of your employees’ understanding of English. Don’t assume that they understand. This can be achieved during their initial employment & induction.
  2. Develop a training schedule that sets out the training for the new employee and explain the training process to them – training should never be a mystery.
  3. Develop or use safe systems of work or SOPs for all your training, to achieve a quality product and safe outcome.
  4. Train others to train – don’t assume that long standing employees can train others.
  5. Training is as simple as:
    • Tell
    • Show
    • Illustrate
    • Check for understanding
    • Try out
    • Check again
    • And correct any mistakes.
  6. Provide them with supervision, or buddy them with an experienced person where they can go to and ask questions or ask for help.
  7. Praise and give encouragement – remember they will be nervous on their first day.
  8. Inform the trainee that you will check with them on a regular basis.
  9. Sign off all training when they are competent with the task, they are using safe practices, and there are no mistakes.

We have all heard of the KISS principle, but I would take licence here and add another element that can be applied when writing your future business standards or safe operating procedures.

That is, to KISSP it.   Keep it short, sweet, and palatable.

If the procedures are too long winded or contain a lot of technical or cluttered jargon, they will not be understood and not digested by the employees.

KISSP, so whoever have to train others has a structured and simple process that contain all the quality and safety standards that comply with the companies requirements, every time.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss.