Communication essentials: supply chain

Why is the supply chain all jacked up and how can we repair it?

Great headline. Pretty much sums up a lot of the conversations I’ve been a part of lately.

The supply chain is on all our minds right now. We rebounded (sort of) from the pandemic only to be met with supply chain challenges. Six weeks for that. Eight weeks for this. You’ll get that in September (yay!) of 2022 (boo!).

Even restaurants, stores and supermarkets are experiencing the pain of supply chain issues – albeit in the form of labor. A restaurant I went into a few weekends ago had a sign that read ‘Happy to serve you…but please know it won’t be as fast as normal. P.S. – We’re hiring!’

The linked article talks a lot about the labor aspect of this – and digs into some of those numbers we’ve been hearing so much about. But this goes way beyond the labor, which is why I decided to make this total supply chain disruption today’s ‘communication essential.’

It’s a helpless feeling, as a communicator, to sit by and listen to clients and companies talk about their supply chain issues. A company can do everything right. Care for their customer. Provide the best service. But in the end, a supply chain challenge, the likes of what we’re seeing right now, can impact everything.

Well, I don’t like to sit by and watch that. And since this is a blog about how to use communications in leadership, I thought I’d share a few ideas on how we can help.

Facilitate. There may be no greater use of good communication skills than to facilitate a conversation, a strategy session or discovery in general. Not because of the ideas you bring to the table…but because of what you will allow others to do: collaborate.

Ideate. Hey, we have ideas too. And beyond helping others free up their brains to think through challenges, we can contribute to the cause. But the difference is we can help structure the brainstorms or ideation sessions to get the most out of the collective brainpower in the room.

Communicate. A cheap entry on this list? Maybe. But when you consider just how valuable (and underrated) the skill of communicating effectively is, it needs to be here. Yes, you can apply it to the previous two ideas…but there is a lot lost in the day-to-day that can help identify the challenges, connect the right people with the right people and take the ideas and thinking and apply them to a roadmap that could help foster a solution.

Don’t take communications – especially the art of listening – for granted when companies are forced into a volatile situation such as managing the daily disruption of a supply chain.

Advocate. I like to ask companies, ‘who owns your communications strategy?’ mainly because the answer often triggers some incredible conversation. But think about it from an internal position – if communication is so important…who is advocating for it on a daily basis? Who is suggesting a brainstorm…or that people talk? Who is making sure ideas don’t die in a closed loop? Organizations need someone advocating for open communication and advancement of ideas – we can be that person.

These are just a few ways we as communicators can step up and help. The common thread in all of these, of course, is listening. Listening is what helps us have the realization that we can truly help and suggest an actionable step. Don’t deny yourself – or your organization – one of your most valuable skills.

Happy listening.