Whether your company has less than 10 employees or more than 50, effective communication is vital to productivity. Conversely, the effects of poor communication are disorder and a lack of trust. As a result, this can also lead to confusion within the workplace and lost business.
Examples of poor communications aren’t just about saying the wrong thing. It’s also about what’s not being said. However, the effects are often hard to measure because they occur silently, and often with no oversight of a problem. The root cause may not be cultural alone but may be due to a lack of communication systems, procedures, and technologies.
How far can it go? People will draw conclusions with the information they have. If the information is limited or non-existent, it’s quickly replaced with speculation. Culture can become so averse to any source of information, that everything becomes suspicious.
In fact, the propagation of fear, uncertainty, and doubt can become so pervasive that no amount of consensus on any topic is deemed trustworthy. When outside sources are largely dismissed and perceptions replace facts, you are now describing a behavior with such conviction and cognitive dissonance that change becomes extremely difficult.
Thankfully, this isn’t about conspiracies or doomsday scenarios. It’s about business. You’re right if you think that the office is not about to fall into anarchy and that most of your coworkers are fairly reasonable. That’s because the underlying problems of business communications are more subtle.
And although it will not cause society to fall into chaos, it can nevertheless become damaging to the bottom line of a business – enough to break its competitive edge and by extension, its market share.
How do we earn trust, motivate people to share information, and enhance social capital in a business environment? Equally important is; what tools do we use to effectively communicate?
Leadership and Transparency
Nokia and Porsche are well-known and (historically) profitable companies that have been around for a long time. They are also companies that have been described by some as top-down in their management style.
Recently, they’ve seen some tough times. Old-school companies are suffering a beat-down in today’s marketplace. I’m referring to top-down organizations where communication flows strictly in one direction. Employee ownership within their respective areas of expertise have been marginalized.
Intellectual contributions of the employee are not taken seriously. Meanwhile, employees adopt the motto: “keep your head low in the high grass”. They steer clear of anything that might make them stand out in a crowd.
That doesn’t work anymore. Leadership is about understanding the limitations of a rigid hierarchy. Executive presence is about acknowledging and accurately assessing the value of the generous employee.
Advancing the Collective Skill Set
Developing individual social skills may involve reading a book or taking a corporate training program. By enlarge, it’s about immersion in a culture and the opportunity to participate in it. There are many conduits to a culture – not the least of which is social media.
Twitter, for example, has surprised many as it’s become a great mode of communication in business – especially in customer service and areas where mobility is important. Whatever you choose, whether internal or external to the company, one of the main objectives is to foster norms of reciprocity (mutual contributions to a given objective).
Then, be prepared to adopt technologies with which to share ideas and make your company’s efforts a concerted one. This may mean social media or file sharing tools which are local or cloud-based, for example. It may also mean and upgrade incorporate mobile communications.
The cohesive, respectful and well-organized culture within a company will eventually become a behavior projected to its customers.