Ask Your Employees – The ‘Reverse-Flow’ Meeting

Ask your employees – The Reverse-Flow meeting.

A few weeks ago I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman at a large (Un-named) University in Toledo.

He said he was really interested in creating “Self Directed Work Teams” in some of the areas with which he worked.

Since, I really wasn’t familiar with the term I told him that I thought there wasn’t a fit with Business Navigators.

I went back to Business Navigators world headquarters and after a day and a half of research I discovered that for the past twenty-three years that is exactly what I have been doing.

It’s called ‘The Reverse-Flow’ meeting and in the next few postings I want to share exactly what that looks like.

First, why do I call the meetings “Reverse-Flow”? I call the meeting by that name because often communication and “other stuff” flow downhill from the “Top”. These meeting reverse that flow back to the top of the organizational pyramid.

Here is what I believe.

You may have already hired to solutions to most of your problems. Your employees can identify key issues, prioritize strategies and implement action plans, which can improve many things including your bottom line.

A few years ago at one of my clients, an HVAC (Heating Ventilating and Air Condition) distributor, I heard these comments during our monthly Reverse-Flow Meeting.

“Customers are waiting on hold far too long; some of them give up and call somebody else.”

“It’s not my fault. I switch them to the counter and let the counter know what line they are on.”

“How can I hear Sue’s page when I’m talking to a customer who’s at the counter.”

“It’s the purpose of this meeting to find out how we can solve this problem. How can we change the way we are doing things to make things better?”

By the end of that meeting a strategy was developed and immediately implemented. At the next meeting the participants agreed that the bad situation had greatly improved.

Was that a meeting of managers?

No, they were front-line employees who identified a barrier which prevented good customer service. They corrected the problem.

Rick Day, president of Heating & Cooling Wholesalers Inc., in Toledo, Ohio, believes just that. “Our business wasn’t moving at fast-forward until we got some of the best professional help in the industry.” Day said. “We tapped into the resources that were already on site – the professional help of our employees and staff. When we stopped looking at our employees as problems and rather as the source for solutions, things have become better.”

People who are best-suited to make things better are those who are involved with the situation.

Next: Six principles for successful Reverse-Flow meetings.

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