Joey Gulledge is the Vice President of Ruston Glass and Mirror Co., Inc. His career began when he graduated from Louisiana Tech University and he has since developed into a strong communicator. Of his twenty years of communication experience in the field of management, fifteen have been spent at Ruston Glass. Because he must communicate much of the daily issues of the company, he labels himself the Administrative Manager.
Mr. Gulledge defines technical communication as “the communication within a business that helps the business flow, whether it be verbal or non-verbal”. Over the last decade, he has been looking for ways to remodel the system so that communication problems will not arise. The ultimate goal of the management team is to be able to communicate without physically speaking to one another. He desires a system in which he only communicates verbally when major problems arise. As with any business, however, there will be differences in communication methods and modes. He believes that this problem can be avoided as long as the system is uniform and everyone is on the same page.
Modes of Communication
According to Mr. Gulledge, there are two different classes of employees: those in the office and those in the back. The employees in the back would include the glaziers, auto-glass installers, and warehouse workers. For these employees, Mr. Gulledge and other managers have decided to take a verbal approach to communicating with them. On the other hand, what he calls “intra-office communication” requires a much more non-verbal approach. The administrative team at Ruston Glass has developed a system where their jobs can be done in an orderly manner by inputting work orders and schedules into computer software. This is a software that everyone can see and update so that confusion is limited. It also gives every office worker the ability to know exactly what is expected of them and their coworkers.
Regarding communication to people other than employees, Mr. Gulledge primarily uses e-mail. He claims that this is an effective tool for getting his point across because he has the ability to look at past conversations and analyze them properly. He is also able to structure his message as he desires rather than having to improvise while speaking to someone. He mentioned that if a customer calls him on the phone, he will almost always redirect the customer to e-mail because of the efficiency. The same is true for glass distributors and vendors. His primary source of information and communication is through technology.
Problems in Communication
When there is an issue with the way that an idea is being communicated, Mr. Gulledge first takes a look at the source of the problem. Was there a procedural issue or was it strictly a misinterpretation? If the former arises, it is his job to correct it. If the system is not working as it should be, he will go straight to the source and rework it until he is sure that the problem will not arise again. If, however, an employee misinterprets something that Mr. Gulledge or another manager says, he will have to determine whether he or the manager miscommunicated an idea. If so, he will have to take corrective action so that it does not happen again.
Adapting to Technology
As with any business, people must learn how to adapt to their surroundings. In the past decade, America has experienced a tremendous growth in technology. With this new technology, we are able to see real-time data and communicate with each other very effectively. However, if a company fails to evolve alongside the technology, they will have problems with communication. For example, Mr. Gulledge says that the work orders used by the management team at Ruston Glass were written on paper and handed to glass crews ten years ago. Once it was out of the office, it was untraceable. Now, he says, they can input a work order into their system and track it all the way to the filing process. Also, the daily schedule for workers was once written on a notepad and handed to individual workers. The schedule that they use today is on an excel file that everyone can see so that other managers can know where workers are supposed to be and when.
When asked if he feels like an effective communicator, Mr. Gulledge stated that his message will not always get across exactly the way he wants it to. However, he does understand that he does a good job of reading and learning about people. He says that there is a big difference in talking to an eighteen year-old and to a sixty year-old. He almost tries to be a different person to everyone he talks to. One of the biggest mistakes a leader can make is to think that everyone is his circle communicates or interprets in the same way.
“There is no manual for how you should communicate. You learn as you experience.” – Joey Gulledge
James Hardy, Guest Blogger