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Getting Your Team to Speak the Same Language


Getting Your Team to Speak the Same Language

Most mistakes can be traced to poor communication. Here’s how RIKB Design Build strives to end that

By Tanya Donahue September 18, 2023
RIKB Design Build team
The RIKB team, led by Donahue since 2009. RIKB has consistently won Best Places to Work in Rhode Island awards for the past four years.
This article first appeared in the September/October 2023 issue of Pro Remodeler.

Most issues in business can be traced to a communication failure, and when we look into why the communication failed, it often comes down to people speaking different languages.

Everyone works in their silos, which is fine, to a point, but not when it comes to collaboration. Sales and production can sit in the same room and have different experiences.

How do we get everyone to speak the same language? The answer is to put processes in place for safety nets along the way.


The Expectation of the Four Cs

Each year, my leadership team and I set a theme. When deciding on it, we look at what went well the prior year, what needs improvement, and the company’s long-term goals. This year, it’s the four Cs of communication.

I needed to find a way for everyone to self-assess if they communicate properly. Our four Cs make sure we speak the same language. They represent the four groups we interact with as a company: We communicate internally, with clients, trade partners, and vendors. Doing all those correctly leads to success.


When something doesn’t go well, we present it in a learning moment meeting. We gather the entire company for a learning moment so we don’t make the mistake again. 


Learning Moment Meetings

When something doesn’t go well, we present it in a learning moment meeting. We handle the negativity right away, then gather the entire company so we don’t repeat the mistake.

Gathering everybody means that no matter the position, we all know what to look out for. Each department becomes a safety net. We also set a culture where speaking up doesn’t mean getting someone in trouble. Instead, we celebrate it.

Learning moment meetings are important because they create interactions across departments. And when we need a solution, teams come up with ideas together.

In-person handoff meetings are also critical. Those have the project salesperson, technical designer, and field personnel. Looking at the plans together gives you a set of fresh eyes. Then the team goes to the client’s home together one last time—a safety net—before the project begins. 


The Leader's Role

From a leadership perspective, you need a positive attitude, even when things go wrong. It sets the tone and helps people be more open and empathize. And we instill that in our management team. 

I feel the most successful as a leader when someone can come to me and ask for help instead of banging their heads against the wall.

My job as coach and cheerleader is to cultivate open communication and nurture a learning environment, and a lot of that comes down to ensuring we all speak the same language.


written by

Tanya Donahue

Tanya Donahue, president and owner of RIKB Design Build, provides her team and her clients with proven strategic capabilities, backed by her strong record of success. Bringing over 30 years in the construction industry, her focus is to create, communicate, and implement the organization’s vision, mission, and overall direction. RIKB ranks as one of the largest in the New England region. In 2020, she was selected as Kitchen & Bath’s Design News Innovator Honoree. Tanya is an active member of the Rhode Island Builder’s Association, serving as the former co-chair of the Remodelers Committee and currently serving her second term on the Board of Directors. She received the 2015 Prism award for marketing, the 2017 Pro Remodeler magazine Extreme Sales Leader award, served as judge for the national Qualified Remodeler’s Design Awards, and has spoken at Harvard Universities Joint Center for Housing Studies and on National Industry Panels. 

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