Hardly anyone with an ounce of business acumen would argue that the concept of an open communication culture in the workplace is preferable to that of a closed, secretive, Soviet-style environment. It makes perfectly good sense, right? Why, then, do so many companies pay so little attention to the practice of developing and continuously fostering such a concept?
Like much else, it all begins with the company’s top leadership. Without the conviction of the leaders that open communication is a vital and necessary ingredient for the firm’s success, very little benefit will accrue. Satisfied employees make for satisfied customers, as has been found in numerous studies linking employee and customer satisfaction. And since a primary driver of employee satisfaction is open and effective communication, the value of such a culture should be obvious. Leaders who have made a commitment to openness have created not only the conditions for a reciprocal commitment from their employees, but very likely a competitive advantage as well.
What specific benefits can open communication yield? Why would a company invest the necessary time and effort to create such a culture? I would suggest the following, to name but a few:
• Transparency. Open communication enables an atmosphere of respect and integrity. Employees who feel trusted with specific tasks and processes should also be made to feel trusted with information. And since open communication is a two-way process, employees should feel they can communicate openly and candidly without fear of repercussions. Trust and mutual respect are by-products of openness and transparency.
• Conflict resolution. Conflicts are inevitable in an imperfect world. Open communication can identify the root cause(s) and resolve the conflict before greater disruption or damage occurs. Fair and honest communication can also help assuage any tender feelings that might otherwise linger on afterwards.
• Team building. The power of a team is a force multiplier when compared to the often disjointed efforts of individuals. Don’t think for a minute that employees can’t sense such collective team power, and in sensing it and becoming an important part of it, also take great pride in it. Collaboration is indeed a powerful instrument, and open communication goes a long way in promoting an appreciation of a team environment.
• Innovation. Employees who feel trusted and respected, who feel a personal stake in the success of the organization, and who are encouraged to offer their ideas and suggestions, quite often become the source of breakthrough innovation. Whether the innovation involves an internal business process or a way to enhance customer loyalty, a company’s frontline employees are often in the best position to see the need. Never overlook this potentially rich source of innovation and creativity.
Is there risk in being too open with employees? Of course there is. But the risk is more than offset by the value of having a workplace where trust, respect, and commitment are flowing in all directions. The benefits come in far greater magnitude than do the risks.
Source by Gerald Gillis