Your frontline is playing the telephone game and it’s killing your productivity

October 22, 2022 / WorkJam Blog

When it comes to frontline productivity, one of the things that plague the efficiency and effectiveness of frontline teams is what we like to call “The Frontline Telephone Game.”


You remember the telephone game, right? Everyone gets in a line and someone on one end of the chain whispers something to the next person, and then they pass that message on to the person next to them, and so on and so forth until it’s gone through everyone. Then the last person repeats the message out loud to the group and everyone laughs at how much it changed and morphed as it went from one set of ears to the next.


This same thing plays out every day in your organization. Except in this instance, it’s anything but funny.


So how does this happen and what should you do to prevent it?


For starters, many enterprises with frontline, hourly workers have only one point of inbound communication. Often, that single point is a manager or supervisor responsible for a hundred other things in addition to making sure they understood that message from HQ in the first place and passed it along to their employees effectively.


And let’s face it, rarely does that message get passed on correctly. Your frontline teams operate across multiple shifts, across multiple days, across multiple locations and it’s almost a certainty that the important information you’re trying to send out gets morphed and changed as it works its way through the chain, if it’s getting passed down the line at all. Your frontline is disconnected.


Just think about it for a moment. When we play the telephone game we know that the message coming out on one end is going to be different than the message that went in the other. We expect it and laugh at how much it changes. Yet organizations are knowingly and continually setting their frontlines up to communicate just like this every day. Think about what this is costing you in terms of productivity and effectiveness. Think about the risks you’re taking communicating this way when it comes to employee health and safety.


Now imagine a version of the telephone game where everyone stands in a line, but instead of whispering in one end you just tell everyone the same message at the same time. Not a very fun game to play, but way more effective if you’re running a business.


A digital frontline workplace operates the same way. It allows – not just for communication – but two-way communication so you can talk to your frontline and then they can talk back to you if they didn’t understand the message correctly the first time. It’s an incredibly simple premise that so many organizations fail to address.


Your organization needs the right tools to connect the frontline and ensure you’re communicating effectively. Otherwise, all you’re doing is playing a dangerous game of telephone that no one will be laughing at in the end.

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