Communication and culture in the workplace


Not just buzzwords

Communication and culture. Two famous buzzwords that are either met with cheers from senior management on their annual away-day or muffled groans from employees subject to another year of half-baked corporate engagement schemes. However, there is good reason these two words get so much attention:

There is no company without culture and there is no culture without communication.

Effective Communication equals Business Success

So, let’s start with communication, the cornerstone of all highly performing teams and businesses. Effective communication is fundamental to the success of a business as it builds strong bonds between employees, forming relationships that are built on trust, understanding and a feeling of security. Without communication, innovation is stifled and the cross-fertilisation of ideas between teams and departments is all but non-existent, meaning the business stagnates and is not alert to threats.

To be truly effective, communication needs to be transparent and candid, through all levels of the business. A study of Mount Everest expeditions discovered that teams
from hierarchical societies were more successful in getting climbers to the summit, but also more successful at losing climbers to the mountain. This demonstrates that in critical situations, clear and transparent communication is needed throughout the team to cover one another’s blind spots – the leader does not always know best. Clear communication also helps avoid misunderstanding and conflict between team members, leading to increased employee engagement and a better working environment for all.

So, what can you do to find out about how things are in your company? How about:

  • Implementing regular one-to-one meetings with your employees, allowing them to speak about how they are doing, whether they have any concerns and how they are feeling at work.
  • Bi-annual employee surveys where you ask your employees how satisfied they feel with the directors and managers of the organisation and with the working environment in general.
  • Implement games and activities that focus on improving effective communication. This not only is fun, but it can also improve their communication!

Culture is the beating heart of your organisation

Now, on to culture. There is no getting away from it, culture is more important than ever in a business and can often be the difference between success and failure.

If you think of a business like a computer, culture is the operating system and the teams/departments are the apps. Culture is the beating heart of the system, without it, the teams don’t work and without regularly updating it, the whole system comes crashing down.

Increased Employee Engagement

Culture is the very fabric of any organisation and should be as unique as the individuals that work there. Culture is the way employees and managers behave, the way everyone
interacts and communicates with each other and the traditions that the company has. Culture is now a key weapon in an organisation’s arsenal when it comes to attracting the best talent. Employees want more than just a pay-cheque, they want a purpose. Having a clear, defined culture increases engagement, improves relationships, boosts productivity and leads to satisfied employees. The culture of a workplace is influenced by a variety of factors, from the people that work there to the mission and vision yet the greatest influence of all is communication.

In Daniel Colye’s book The Culture Code, he examines the dynamics of groups, large and small, to understand what businesses can do to improve culture. It all boils down to three key things:

  • Build safety to make everyone feel comfortable in working together.
  • Share vulnerability to show no one needs to be perfect.
  • Establish purpose through a common goal and a clear path to get there.

So, if you haven’t thought about any of this before, it is important to ask yourself what is the culture in your organisation and what can you do to change it?

Getting Started

Here are some ideas for where you can start when trying to create a more open, flexible and trusted environment between employees at your organisation:

  • Implement lunch courtesy of the company one day of the week, for example it could be “Friday lunch” .This increases employee satisfaction and is a way to ensure employees spend time with one another away from desks and meetings.
  • Allocate some budget for employee entertainment and out of work activities, such as mini-golf, indoor rock climbing, go karting etc.
  • Introduce stress relief at work, such as meditation or stretch time, where everyone has to stand up from their desk and stretch for 3 minutes or so.

More than ever organisations need to put culture and communication at the top of their agendas and there are quick-wins that you can start working on today!