Businesses, small and large, struggle with creating a culture that allows for open communication between employees. Too often management sits in meetings and discuss project after project but then don’t share the needed information with team members who handle the day-to-day activities. Or companies create an environment of mistrust by misleading or misinforming employees about business decisions such as layoffs, management changes, etc.
It’s critical for employee morale, productivity and internal relationships for companies to foster an environment of open communication. This means passing on information needed to do jobs, but also recognize that employees need to know what is going on with their employers to feel comfortable in their jobs. Not all news can be shared, but hiding the bad from employees will backfire.
First step in developing a culture of open communication is to carefully evaluate your current channels and honestly determine what is working and what doesn’t. This includes electronic or written avenues as well as verbal. What internal communication tools are used? Do you have an employee newsletter? Do you email business updates regularly? Does your CEO appear to have an “open door” policy for employees? What about your verbal channels? Is your evaluation process effective? Do you provide a 360 degree outlet for employees to provide feedback about management and vice versa?
Companies need to review departmental communication channels. Are there silos that have been created that prevent intra-departmental openness? Some silos naturally occur, but many are manmade or created by corporate procedures and need to be removed to improve productivity. In my experience, supervisors and managers often create silos by protecting their territories, so to speak. However, if the walls are removed, then the openness that evolves will provide clearer ideas as to which departments are responsible for what, cutting down on duplication of effort, increasing productivity and decreasing the amount territory grabbing that takes place.
Open communication is about trust — trust with management, employees and the company as a whole. When the communication channels are not open, then the trust isn’t there. Developing a culture of openness will improve those trust levels and eventually have significant impact on the company’s bottom line.
Any thoughts or additions?