Have you ever walked into a professional environment and felt a vibe?
Perhaps you sensed happy, productive employees. Maybe you could feel the tension in the air. Possibly there is a feeling of being welcomed and part of the club.
That my friend is culture.
What Is Organizational Culture?
Every organization has a culture. Culture is defined by how people communicate, interact, how information is shared, and how decisions are made.
Culture is created and modeled by organizational leadership. This example of behavior becomes ingrained into the core fabric of the way things are communicated and business is conducted. It is how we do things here.
Positive Culture = Productive Work Environment
Positive work cultures can influence productivity and a healthy work environment.
However, a less-than-positive culture can have the opposite effect and stifle worker productivity, ultimately impacting the bottom line.
For instance, think about a time that there was a major conflict at your place of business. What happens? Employees are focused on the rumor mill, and productivity slows to a snail’s pace.
Organizational Culture And Communication
A key characteristic of culture is good communication and how information is shared and exchanged within the organization.
Effective communication keeps internal processes running smoothly and helps create positive relations with people both inside and outside the organization.
Why Is Organizational Culture Important?
Culture is important because, for successful communication, there needs to be a two-way dialogue, allowing for the exchange of ideas.
I’ve always said that wars are fought because of cultural communication misunderstandings.
This is a sad truth because it need not be that way.
When there are communication breakdowns within an organization, it can lead to conflict in the workplace.
This conflict is often caused by a lack of communication or distorted or inaccurate information.
Often these breakdowns are caused by ineffective communication channels within an organization.
When information is not shared or not shared in a structured way, it results in those who need the information to fill in the blanks.
Organizational leadership needs to be cognizant of what information needs to be shared when and what process should be used to share information.
Employees tend to fill in the blanks when they don’t have all of the information. Unfortunately, this vacuum typically results in inaccurate assumptions.
Proactive communication minimizes the productivity gaps that happen when employees are trying to figure it out.
4 Misconceptions Managers Have About Sharing Information:
1. Employees Don’t Understand
Managers often assume that employees don’t understand difficult issues or don’t have an interest in them.
But in reality, employees care about their place of employment and have a vested interest in what is going on.
2. Only Major News Gets Shared
Some managers think that there is no need to communicate information unless it is major. Unfortunately, this approach keeps employees in the dark about daily changes.
Managers should approach information sharing as a tool to keep employees interested and engaged.
The more you can share, the more employees feel like they are part of a team working toward a shared goal.
3. Only Good News Please
There is a misconception that employees only need to hear good news. The reality is employees need to be aware of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Use good news to encourage and congratulate employees. And, don’t make the mistake of trying to protect employees from bad news. It simply fuels distrust of leadership.
For instance, if your business is struggling to recover from the pandemic shutdowns, talk to employees and use their front-line knowledge to help develop a plan to reduce expenses, improve processes or reduce work inefficiencies.
4. I Thought I WAS Sharing Information
Most managers don’t intentionally withhold information. In fact, most middle managers think that they share information timely and appropriately.
They often don’t think about what they know and how that information may help a front-line employee.
For instance, managers go to planning meetings and hear about initiatives that are on the horizon. Some of these initiatives may impact employees. Good communication happens when managers consistently ask themselves:
What is it that I know that my employees need to know?
Don’t Underestimate Employees
Employees are the ones who do the day-to-day work and have more of an understanding than we sometimes give them credit for.
Don’t underestimate employees, no matter their level.
Most employees are very savvy and can understand difficult issues more than leadership gives them credit for.
It is always better to get employees involved in the difficult issues and to solicit their help in addressing the problem.
Successful organizations have figured out how to keep employees engaged and involved in the process and take advantage of their perspective and experience in identifying and resolving organizational issues.
Sharing and celebrating successes while using employees to help solve problems is the best-kept secret of successful organizations.
This approach helps the organization move forward and gives the employee a sense of value and worth. An important part of great manager skills!
Do you have examples of good communication processes you’d like to share?