Effective communication is a key factor in how a company’s culture is formed and cultivated. David Hassell, CEO of 15Five explains, “A culture of open communication where employees are encouraged to share their ideas and concerns, both positive and negative, gives employees the sense that they are valued. In turn, this feeling of value leads to a greater sense of ownership for the employee in the company’s success.”
If you want to build a culture that allows for organizational growth and employee investment in the company, you must prioritize effective communication. The following ideas will help you better understand the importance of communication and how to use it as a tool to create an effective company culture.
Active Listening – Good Communication Promotes Understanding
Talking and listening are the two main ingredients in a successful conversation—you can’t have one without the other. However, it’s easy to do more of the talking and less of the listening, and for many reasons. According to Hubgets’ 5 Powerful Habits of Good Listeners, those reasons include:
- Vanity: Too focused on your own challenges or projects.
- Distraction: Deadlines and pressure from managers make it hard to focus on the needs of others.
- Productivity push: We are expected to get more work done in less time. So, either we don’t have the time to listen all the way through, or we can’t afford it.
A lack of listening leads to miscommunication and lack of understanding, not to mention frustration or anger when someone wants to be heard and they feel as if they are being pushed to the side. But active listening can help fix this as it holds you accountable to the conversation and ensures the other person is heard.
All you have to do is repeat back what you’ve heard, along with your response. This forces you to listen to what’s being said so you can articulate a response. Repeating what you’ve heard may also prompt the person to repeat or clarify a point, further ensuring full understanding of their need, request or concern.
As such, a company culture built on active listening clears the floor to allow for more productivity and effectiveness. With less frustration, and more clarity, employees are happier and better able to do their job better.
A True Open Door Policy is Necessary
Effective communication starts with how well leadership communicates with employees, which is why many companies employ an open door policy. However, that open door policy may not be as effective as it seems. Peter Barron Stark, of Peter Barron Start Companies, suggests:
“Most managers say they have an open door policy. However, employees often quickly find out that although the door may be open, the mind is closed. If you have an open door policy, it means you welcome people to come to your office with their ideas, comments, complaints, and suggestions.”
According to statistics, 33 percent of employees feel ignored when bringing ideas and concerns to their managers. This leads to a lack of innovation and wasted talent from employees who have great ideas to help the company grow.
To develop an effective company culture, leaders must have a true open door policy, open door and mind, that allows for a successful flow of communication. Set weekly or daily walk-in hours to decrease disruptions to make this possible.
Communication Doesn’t Come Easy for Every Employee
While meetings allow employees to speak up, this setting can be too intimidating for some. Because of this, communication that relies on meetings as the sole place for sharing ideas means not everyone is able to contribute to the growth of the company. A good fix is to provide alternate opportunities for communication, keeping the lines of dialogue open between employees and leaders.
One-on-one meetings are an obvious format for private conversations, which may be better suited for introverted employees—but don’t stop there. Retreats or “field trips” are a good way to break the ice, where communication can happen in a more casual setting. A few outing ideas include:
- Escape Rooms
- Karaoke Night
- Sports Game
Additionally, 47 percent of employees who responded to a 2018 Future of Work survey said they value community in the workplace – meaning that outings that take the company beyond the four walls of the office can help foster relationships that lead to a better community inside the office.
An Authentic Work Environment Allows for Open Dialogue
An authentic work environment is one where employees feel comfortable to be themselves and communicate, both with each other and their managers. This element of a great company culture creates a sense of trust, allowing conversation to flow freely and openly.
The fabric of an authentic work environment is based on:
- Mutual respect between the employer
- Trust and goodwill
- Clear and consistent communication
This authentic work environment helps you create a company culture that promotes forward-thinking because employees feel comfortable with sharing innovative ideas and solutions to problems. A great way to foster collaboration in a fun and efficient way is to use productivity workspaces like Spike. It helps you and your team brainstorm freely with its conversational email and Groups, streamlining your work day. Couple this with a true open-door policy, and you’ll be sure to see an improvement in company culture and atmosphere.
Better Communication Starts With Feedback
One important area of communication is feedback. This is also an area where your company culture may be lacking. Researchers have found that an average of 46 percent of executives perform reviews on an annual basis, yet 81 percent of employees would prefer quarterly feedback, while 90 percent of employees want their manager to address performance mistakes in real-time.
This lack of effective communication hurts not just your company culture, but employees and the growth potential of the company as well. Without feedback, employees lack the tools they need to learn and grow from their mistakes, which, in turn, holds the company back.
The good news is: taking advantage of this important communication opportunity is as easy as building quarterly reviews into your company culture. The key is acting on it—don’t drag reviews on for months at a time. Prioritize this each quarter to model the importance of communication to employees.
Communication and Company Culture: An Important Combination
Whether you’re talking or listening, a productive and effective company culture is based on good communication. Maintain open lines of communication with a true open door policy and regular reviews. Don’t forget to use active listening and make time for company outings so every employee has a chance to share their ideas in an environment that feels most comfortable. Great company culture is built on a foundation of communication, so don’t let sit on the back burner any longer.