You would think that in the technological era where most people in organization have access to instant messaging (Skype, Whatsapp…), social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), email and the like, it would be easier for information to flow and easier to communicate, however this is not the case. Blind development or what is colloquially known ‘mushroom management’ continues to be a system that plagues the work place. In this system of management, only the bare essentials necessary to complete tasks or for one to fulfill the job would be communicated.
Simon Sinek, world renowned author, at The 99% Conference in 2011 said: “We’re not good at everything, we’re not good by ourselves. Our ability to build trust and relationships is the key to our survival as a race, and to thriving as idea makers.”. The ability to build trust and relationships, of any kind, lies in the ability to communicate, further than that, to communicate effectively.
We believe that there are 3 key areas of focus in terms of communication. First, being able to communicate the company vision/mission/goals (and progress thereof) to all employees, from the highest level to the very lowest. The second is communication between employer and employee/manager and subordinate. The third, which is communication between employees, is a symptom of the environment created by the organizational culture.
Communicating the vision:
In his book ‘Start With Why’ Simon Sinek notes that “in business, it doesn’t matter what you do, it matters why you do it.” It is essential for those working in any organization to know the ‘why’. Why are we here? Why are we doing what we do? This allows employees to identify with the vision and it creates a common cause. A common cause unifies and strengthens. When people are not aware of the vision or their role in this vision, there is no personal connection or attachment. They are simply there to complete a task only to receive compensation.
We at Apex believe it is important to communicate the vision and mission as often as possible in order to create a sense of purpose. To ensure that everyone understands and believes in why they are there and the meaning and importance of their role.
Communication between employer and employee:
This form of communication is essentially the backbone of any organization. The all too popular quote by Marcus Buckingham remains true, “people do not leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.” How managers communicate with their subordinates is essentially an extension of the company vision. What kind of conversations are managers having with their teams? Is it an effective meeting? Dik Veenman, founder of The Right Conversation notes that there are 7 barriers to open conversation, these being:
- People are cautious – ‘Truth does not easily speak to power’
- We don’t like to upset other people
- We are taught that dialogue is win-lose
- ‘I’m the boss’ (mentality)
- Belief that feedback = dialogue
- Lack of time
- Lack of skills
We believe that understanding the barriers of communication/dialogue in an organization is the first step overcoming these barriers. Overcoming these barriers is essential to creating an environment where people feel trusted and trusting, thereby allowing for more fruitful and effective dialogue. You have employees who know the organization’s vision and their role in reaching the objectives and they feel heard. In such a healthy environment, there is then room for innovative ideas, and ‘innovation is the key to success.’
Communication between employees:
The third aspect of communication, that of communication between employees, is often neglected. An environment where this is encouraged is essential. Simon Sinek, in his Ted Talk titled ‘Why Leaders Eat Last’ refers to the workplace ecosystem, which only functions well when everyone plays their part and when there is trust at all levels of this ecosystem. The idea that your team mate “has your back” creates an environment where people can share more, ask more, think out loud more and reach creative solutions a lot quicker. Creating an environment where team mates build each other for the common good, resulting in more productivity. Furthermore, this environment would allow for the sharing of ideas and allow for problem solving within teams and allow departments with different points of view to apply a fresh perspective.
At Apex, we believe in honest and open dialogue and in some cases, the decreased use of technology. We believe in human connection, by way of face to face communication and interaction, as this would allow for the building of trust and the creation of mutual respect. In addition to this being an easier way to minimize disputes and to solve problems quickly, we believe that this creates a more collaborative culture and environment.