How Well Does Your Company Communicate?

If you answered, “Not well” to this question, you’re probably in good company. It often seems that employers either don’t “get” how valuable clear communication with employees can be to overall employee satisfaction and company well-being or they have an agenda that precludes giving consideration to issues not clearly profit-oriented.

Why Some Companies Don’t Communicate Well with Employees

Actually, I suppose there could be several reasons this happens, aside from the “profit focus” viewpoint mentioned above. For example:

      • The management team isn’t skilled in effective communication techniques.
      • One or more members of the top management team believe employees should be seen and not heard–that is, they should be treated basically as children.Wild rumor
      • Management’s view is that employees either can’t be trusted to handle the “straight story” about business issues or don’t have a “need to know.”
      • Employees (that includes you) don’t take or make opportunities to communicate to management their desire to participate and share ideas.

In some cases, management’s fear of repercussions if it shares sensitive information with employees has at least some grounds. The old saying about “loose lips sink ships” isn’t just a clever rhyme to indicate the problems caused by verbal indiscretions. The wrong words to the wrong person or at the wrong time could conceivably derail important negotiations. On the other hand, trying to keep the lid on something and have it leak out anyway can also seriously disrupt the process.

And that situation can severely damage company-employee relations, possibly resulting in the premature departure of valued employees the company was counting on to help it keep moving.

So What Can Companies Do to Communicate Better?

A little candor could go a long way. Whenever your company has any options that include sharing at least some of the information with you and your colleagues, it can take advantage of that opportunity. Yes, management might need to edit what it chooses to share, but at least if it provides whatever information it can, that could help give you a sense of inclusion instead of making you feel left out of something you suspect will heavily affect your future.

How might that play out?

Sounds kookyTo start with, management should recognize that its employees (at all levels) are not children and treating them as such is inappropriate at best. Of course, this recognition needs to come from the top. If the primary leader (CEO or whatever the role is) favors a closed-door approach to employee communications, his or her management team isn’t likely to buck that, especially if it jeopardizes his/her own position in the company.

But if the #1 executive clearly indicates to the management team that candor within reasonable limits is preferable to trying to keep a host of secrets from employees, this encourages the team to share with employees whatever information is not strictly limited. For example, if a major change in the industry is prompting management to look at options for remaining competitive–or even outpacing its competition–some of its employees might actually come up with practical ideas for helping make this happen.

At the very least, informed employees could be brought to understand that the company is doing its best to keep them in the loop and make them a part of the process (if it is).

If you happen to be a key leader in your company or organization, where do you stand on this subject? Are you supportive? Then how well do you put your views into practice?

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