When people are asked how their organisation could do better, communication is consistently an area that is high up the agenda. Yet only one in ten employees feel fully informed about what is happening within their organisation. And that’s only half the story, the missing piece is about consultation; open lines of communication that are two-way and ongoing. Achieving open communication is seen by many as an intimidating prospect – it’s never a ‘quick fix’ area, it relates to your way of doing business, your organisational culture and how you engage the hearts and minds of your people.
Why is creating a culture of open communication important? There are many reasons, but here are three very important ones:
1. Leadership: Clear communication of your organisation’s vision and purpose will strengthen your culture and inspire your people to strive for outstanding results. Done properly, this will enable you to align company with individual goals and track targets.
2. Community: Cultivate a sense of ‘togetherness’ and connectivity across different layers and departments – you all share a common goal, so look at creating an online community hub in your branding for people to share stories, celebrate milestones and feel like ‘part of the club’.
3. Improvement: Constantly seeking better ways to do things requires open channels of communication – are you asking for, listening to and responding to your people’s ideas?
At last year’s Outperformance Roadshow held by Investors in People, British cycling coach Sir Dave Brailsford spoke of the importance of developing a culture of continuous improvement through his theory of ‘marginal gains’ whereby constant adaptation, flexibility and always seeking improvement – through every marginal gain – feature heavily in the very best organisations.
To me, this means cultivating a culture of two-way dialogue and feedback – the very heart of improvement through open communication.
Asking the simple question ‘What would you change if you were CEO for a day?’ to everyone in your organisation can generate innovation directly from your people, from those who interact directly with your customers – and – due to the power of ‘word of mouth’ and the dominance of online review sites, can become a great marketing tool in terms of both brand, and employer brand.
If you only do one thing, seek out ways you can harness your best resource – your people – to open a culture of dialogue and constant improvement through even the most seemingly marginal gains. You may be amazed at the results.