Communication is the most critical ingredient of good, let alone great or exceptional, culture.

There. I said it.

Workology Co’s Whitepaper found there are 6 key ingredients that make up exceptional workplace culture. Communication was one of the six.

But in all honesty, in the absence of good communication practices, the other 5 ingredients  (such as exceptional leadership, accountability & recognition) will fail.

And in every cultural health check/audit that I have every conducted, issues with poor or ineffective communication are AWLAYS one of the problems identified.

Each and every time. Even though the how/what will look different for each organisation.

Which is why I have banged on about this topic (especially the need to listen to your employees) many, many times before now.

I could fill an E-book full of tips and hacks on what good communciation looks like.

Today however is a blog…so here is a summary of some of the most important and timely tips for improving communication across your organisation.

Open and transparent communication

65% of survey respondents said open and transparent communication across the organisation was a feature of the best organisation they had ever worked

[Workology Co White Paper]

To me, it’s a no-brainer that communication is essential for exceptional culture- across the organisation. That is, top-down and down-up across all teams, departments, roles and sites.

Ok, that’s great, we get it Ali. Communication is important. But what does ‘good’ communication look like?’

Great question! Here is an answer I researched earlier.

Elements of good communication

The White paper found good communication looks like this:

  • Authenticity is key – from the type of stories that are reported on internally, including challenges as well as wins, to the way that they are reported
  • Understanding your people want to be heard and actively listening to their opinions
  • Don’t just ask for feedback to ‘check the box’; it is better not to ask for it at all if you will just disregard it
  • Tells lots of stories to reinforce the vision
  • Communicating what is happening in the organisation, be open and transparent about relevant things
  • Use plain speak not corporate speak wherever possible
  • Introduce digital technology that allows for instantaneous and two-way communication between teams
  • Share the bad news as well as the good – better your people find out the bad news from you directly than learning about it on social media
  • Find ‘communication champions’ across the organisation, who are responsible for sharing stories
  • Keep all employees updated with details of activity occurring across the organisation and the broader impact, if any, of those activities
  • Create and share a timeline marking key milestones achieved – and those still to come

In case there is any doubt: being prepared to listen to your teams, does not mean you have to do everything your employees suggest.

However almost as important as listening, is demonstrating that you have considered employee opinions.

Followed up by communicating whether you can/cannot act on those opinions (and why/why not).

A case study of best practice communication

One of the joys of my work is when I come across examples of organisations with exceptional culture.

One example from the White Paper of an organisation ‘doing’ Communication right, is a digital start-up of around 200 employees, and they way they went about the business of identifying the company values.

This didn’t happen through a collaboration just between HR and Marketing. Instead,

  • HR lead spoke 1:1 to the Executive – broadly speaking, what did they think the company values should be?
  • Staff survey was sent out company wide, asking for (non-identifying) personal values, followed by asking individuals what they thought the business values should be
  • The rich data was extensively analysed, and several themes identified
  • The themes were tested in workshops across the business, where deep dives into draft language / behaviours happened
  • A working version of the values were drafted, which were then further tested in more workshops
  • The final version, prepared after all this input from across all levels of the organisation, was presented back to the Executive, sign off was obtained and the values were subsequently rolled out.

Incidentally, all this happened in 6 weeks. Gold star Internal Comms right there!

Listening to your employees makes them feel heard, which in turn makes them feel as if their opinion matters. We feel valued and included when our opinion is sought.

What do we need to do differently?

Those of you that are regular followers of Workology Co will know that I was a little sad (ok, ok, devastated) about the timing of the White Paper’s release.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been quite so blasé when planning to release months of work on a Black Friday; especially when this particular one – Friday 13th March 2020- turned out to be mere hours before we were thrown into Lockdown #1.

After initially being devastated about the timing of the White Paper release, one of the unexpected joys was the realisation that the 6 key ingredients the White Paper identified were still as relevant during lockdown as the day the paper was released. In fact, they often became more relevant as the pandemic dragged on.

And Communication, key ingredient #3 (and probably my personal favourite, not that I have a favourite. *cough) was a prime example of this.

Team members were suddenly thrown into working from home, usually with only hours of notice. They were, often for the first time, physically distant from their colleagues and managers, as well as all the normal resources and support of their office.

In these challenging and uncertain times, communication became arguably THE most important ingredient of retaining the culture of organisations.

As well as important for a whole other suite of reasons such as wellbeing.

Now that we are (kind of, sort of?) coming out the other side of the pandemic, the rise and rise of hybrid working arrangements once again means that good communication practices are essential for every single business.

Here are a few of my favourite tips for ways to keep communication happening in hybrid working environments. Keep scrolling down the right hand side to watch all six slides.

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Communicate, communicate, communicate.

You can never over- communicate with your employees. Many, many times I have heard Executive members insist that they have more than adequately communicated with their employees.

Every time I have heard the contrary from said employees.

In other words (this one’s for you, Exec): if you think you have done enough communicating, do more.

 

If you are ready to take the internal comms in your organisation up to the next level, then let’s chat.

Reach out via alison@workologyco.com.au or call 0400 019 599.