No group, team, family, government, or company in the world could be productive and functional without communication. At the most basic level communication is what builds relationships. It fosters feelings of trust, mutual respect, empathy and more. Functionally, it is also the foundation for any planning or task. Anyone who has ever tried to organize an event or execute an idea knows how important clear communication is. It is logical then, that within a company, this need exists too. Especially, those at the managerial level spend much of their time passing on information, clarifying goals, and bringing team members up to speed and on the same page; or in other words, communicating.
Organizational communication is a wide-ranging term encompassing different forms of communication that provide companies and organizations the opportunity for basic functionality to maximum growth, and everything in between. Practically, organizational communication can be internal, within the organization, such as managerial employee communication, discussions at the corporate level, or correspondence between departments, and it can also be external, such as advertising and PR. Through organizational communication, companies benefit from their employees’ empowerment, motivation, productivity, and more, and it is a necessary element of successful organizations.
Organizational communication is beneficial in many ways:
- Empowerment. This works for two reasons. When people have the necessary information, they will feel more confident that they have the knowledge required to make a decision, and this feeling is accurate. Much of employee decision-making is based on existing information, and the clearer the information, the easier it is to make a decision. On a more human and emotional level, people will feel trusted and valued when they experience clear communication. If they feel that their superiors are explaining concepts, taking time to pass along knowledge and new updates, and sharing the company’s goals, they will likely feel trusted and respected, and thus, empowered. An efficient company relies on its employees feeling confident in their individual decision-making ability and skills.
- Productivity. Much time is wasted, both in and out of the workplace, on simple clarification. This issue can be avoided from the start if managers prioritize clear explanation. If there is something unclear to them, then even the simple act of saying they will get back to their employees and then reporting back, can save countless hours of confusion and replace it with productivity and work.
- Improvement and motivation. When managers give both positive and negative feedback, employees know what they should and shouldn’t change for the future. Companies who don’t communicate feedback will see less improvement and growth. In this vein, communication also includes praise, which bolsters both individual and group motivation.
Relationships Boost Retention. Especially after a pandemic that drastically impacted social connection in and out of the workplace, the value in facilitating relationships is not lost on anyone. The positive environment that relationships create in a company can be clearly seen and felt. Specifically, the relationship between manager and employees is of significant importance. According to an ADP Research Institute report, 36% of employees listed “poor direct manager relationship” as the reason they would leave the company (excluding compensation), the most selected option. As with any relationship, communication is the foundation. For companies to ensure better retention rates, focusing on managerial relationships and prioritizing successful communication is a wise choice.
So what can companies do to create organizational communication?
As with any communication, it must be a two-way street. This reciprocity and mutual feedback is started when managers succeed in making the employees feel comfortable to ask questions; both clarifying and possibly critiquing. When employees are only receiving information but never sharing their concerns or ideas, the relationship is limited, and the communication is weak. Managers who listen to and amplify their employees’ voices are not only more popular, they are more productive. Taking the time to express to employees that their feedback is welcomed saves management time in the long run and improves quality of work.
Strengthen formal communication. Typically, companies do not struggle to maintain strong formal communication, however it is not less important. In order for information to flow properly and for all employees to be on the same page, it is imperative that managers effectively communicate the organization’s priorities and mission. Besides for the necessity of communicating things such as safety guidelines and company rules, it also serves as a basis for further discussion.
At the same time, informal communication is also significant and contributes to a company’s success. From chats in the lunch line to brief discussions over coffee in the hall, the conversations are no less important when they are informal. Although this type of communication may seem less critical to a company’s growth, a wise manager facilitates and encourages employees to engage in informal communication, potentially even with use of social media.
In this vein, being clear and consistent with communication is key. If a manager uses formal communication typically to discuss and brief employees about new hires, it would be unexpected of said manager to fill everyone in while waiting for the elevator. Additionally, the tone or respect assigned to a topic should remain consistent. Employees can feel confused, feel that there are double standards, or at the minimum, just take note of the inconsistencies if they exist. These inconstancies do not create better and clearer communication.
Use multiple mediums. This could be use of any platform such as LinkedIn or Power up or even simpler applications such as WhatsApp. However, there are also companies full of employees with bare to minimum understanding of technology, and the organizations are obviously run quite differently, with flip phone conversations being the most basic part of the job communication. Although, this may not be an obvious move to increase productivity, managers who utilize social media see correctly can absolutely see overall growth and especially in informal communication. It is important for managers to meet employees where they are at and incorporate both technology mediums and frontal discussions as part of their communication.
Through these and other tips for implementing organizational communication, managers can prioritize one of the best secrets for success in a practical way. When employees feel they are being communicated and consulted with, both formally and informally, they will feel trusted and empowered; excited to both be reliable workers and also to take new initiatives. The benefits of organizational communication are multifaceted and are foundational for a company’s success.