The catchball is an important part of any planning process, but it is something that is all too often just glossed over. When done properly the catchball encourages leadership and team members to dialogue about a particular topic in an efficient and productive manner. It can help to break down the walls which are all too often placed between management and the team members, and it can also help meetings progress much more smoothly.
Unfortunately most people misunderstand how catchball is supposed to work, and what it is supposed to accomplish. Many companies will implement the catchball process at executive level meetings, but not continue them down through to all levels. This makes the whole idea very ineffective. To properly utilize the concept of the catchball it is important to look at each of the following areas:
Utilizing the catchball properly can help clarify the types of expectations management has for the employees. This prevents problem from festering until performance review time, and then having the employees surprised when they don’t get a great review. By implementing the catchball companies are able to have clear expectations ahead of time, thereby preventing problems rather than having to deal with them down the road.
The open lines of communication which are fostered through the catchball process ensure that everyone is on the same page throughout the company. Rather than only focusing on the results management is looking to get, they have to also explain how they expect employees to get there. This keeps companies from running into problems where employees simply work toward finding a way to make their numbers look good rather than actually improve their performance.
The catchball can help identify where people need extra coaching before it causes major problems. In addition, when used during the actual coaching process it can help trainers and managers identify what types of things work well and what doesn’t. This will benefit others who take the training courses as well, which ensures the coaching sessions are as effective and efficient as possible.
While this may seem obvious, the catchball can help improve the overall communication of a company. By giving people a more casual way of sharing ideas, and having this method break down the obstacles between management and team members it is much easier to get an effective dialogue going. Open communication can help to prevent or solve a large range of different problems in just about any company.
While most managers are aware of what the vision is for the company and for their department specifically, that often doesn’t translate down to the front line. By sharing this vision with everyone in the company, and ensuring they understand it, the management team can get many useful ideas from the front line team members. Rather than simply dictating instructions to the employees, they are sharing goals and asking for input on how those goals can best be met. Even when the way things need to happen must be dictated, it still allows the front line employees to have a better understanding of why it is done this way, which can lead to improved morale.