Easily one of the most important pillars of successful office culture is communication. Fostering communication, that is both open and productive, within and between departments should be at the forefront of your management strategy. As with most vital operational components, there is a good deal of work involved in keeping the system running smoothly. One of the first questions you should ask to evaluate your organization’s current system is: Does my business allow for effective communication?
Does my business allow for effective communication?
In order to gauge whether your business encourages successful communication practices, the easiest way is to look for symptoms that you aren’t. These include employee dissatisfaction, poor evaluations, and an overall restrictive work culture. For many organizations, a structure for two-way communication may well be in place, but issues arise if there is little capacity for feedback within that structure. Without an outlet for constructive criticism, employees will feel left out, thereby leading to an inefficient system.
In successful communication, how you listen is as important as what you say.
Listening is inherent in effective communication. When considering a traditional business structure, management delegates tasks to employees with the expectation of completing tasks with minimal need for discussion. However, a more open approach allowing for two-way communication with greater employee involvement can be beneficial for all.
Listening becomes key in departing from a system that places too much of an emphasis on presenting its business strategies and ensuring deadlines are met than listening to employee feedback. The cultural nuance of listening is to understand what is being communicated as well as what is being heard when you’re doing the talking. In effect, making sure that across departments and roles, people are enabled to speak the same language. People will listen in ways that are compatible with their structure, meaning there must be a shared goal in order for what’s being said to be received positively. An emphasis on empathy while listening to someone coming from a different role or background will serve you well.
How to walk the walk: implementing best practices for communication.
In order to make communication a high priority, it should be integrated into business as usual at every opportunity. Finding the best method for you depends on your day to day environment and long-term goals. For some, quarterly employee communication events created a more even playing field for communication which trickled down into everyday interactions. These events create a tangible way to keep everyone up to speed on best practices, and their consistency lets people know that the focus on communication strategy is not a fleeting trend. It’s advisable to use all the tools at your disposal toward this end, including your tech stack, which can be used to more fruitfully nurture a culture of listening.
It’s a good reminder, however, that any system in place within a business runs the risk of becoming nothing more than a routine stand-in without true enforcement. If this is the case, and communication events or your own preferred method fail to encourage meaningful change in communication patterns, it’s better to skip altogether than allow for disingenuous practice to continue. When actual honest feedback isn’t welcomed, the results are disastrous. If layers of management block effective channels for feedback and employees don’t feel supported to speak their minds, a cycle of isolation and withholding from employees may perpetuate. This feeds into a culture of leaders hearing what they want to and continuing with potentially unsuccessful or detrimental practices that could be amended with open communication.
Fostering communication in your organization will not happen overnight if you want that communication to be relevant, open, and beneficial for the shared purpose of your business and all employees. That said, the time and effort needed to create and maintain systems that support the two-way exchange of empathetic listening to productive feedback are worth it and will ensure greater office harmony and ultimately success in the future.
Implementing a system for fostering communication
Fostering communication can be a struggle without the right system in place. At Jubi, we help organizations solve their communication, learning, and development challenges every day. See how we can help your company by scheduling a free demo any time.