The Path to Success: Communicating the Culture

The Path to Success: Communicating the Culture

Effective communication is the lynch pin to building a strong culture based on trust. A 2013 survey conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development concluded that less than 29% of workers have a high level of trust in their company’s leadership. This failure in trust can most often be traced back to a failure in communication. Communication from management is often unclear, inadequate, or inconsistent.

Common misconceptions senior management often have about communication:

  • Employees don’t have a grasp of the difficult issues.
  • There is no need to communicate unless it is critical.
  • Employees should only hear positive information.
  • Middle managers consistently share information.

These misconceptions often lead management to make poor communication decisions. A company without strong communication creates an information vacuum. The team will readily fill this vacuum with misinformation and conjecture. Executive management must stay ahead of this “grapevine” while building a strong culture.

In today’s culture of instant communication and the ability to rapidly gather information, it is often difficult to stay ahead of the grapevine. The best hope to stay ahead is to build a process that will manage the flow of important messages quickly and effectively. The good news is there are many new and effective forms of communication media. Combined with tried-and-true techniques, they will give management the ability to direct and effectively communicate the culture.

Even in smaller organizations, it is important to have a process to manage the flow of information. Organizations with strong cultures assign a member of senior management to guide communication within the company. This simple step will significantly strengthen your culture.

Once responsibility is assigned, a process can be built. It is crucial to understand that building and communicating the culture is a fluid process. This requires a methodical yet flexible approach.

Consider embracing these best practices:

  • 99.5% of employees text. Use mass text messages for fast or emergency communication.
    • For example: “Computers are down. We will notify you when systems are restored.”
  • Webinars/Videos for short technical training sessions or for companywide announcements.
  • All companywide communications are archived on the company’s intranet.
  • Critical information is delivered by voice/meeting. Never by email.
  • Email is used only as form of back up communication.
  • Potentially negative information is always delivered in a meeting format.
  • Create a special email address for information management.
  • Monthly Newsletters to build a positive flow of information.

One of the primary failures of communication today is the overuse of email. If the “boss’s” communication can be dismissed with the click of a mouse, it can be dismissed all together.

The most effective communication must be delivered in the medium preferred by the recipient. This fact alone should change how information is conveyed. In today’s fast-paced world of instant communication the effort to converse must be multi-faceted. Using a combination of media will insure the team hears and absorbs the cultural message. Using this method over time will improve the team’s performance.

As the culture is constructed, understand the target audience and how they will view the multitude of messages they receive on a daily basis. Using multiple forms of media will control the flow and quality of information, strengthen the culture, and create a high performance team.

If you would like to read our four previous posts on culture building your can follow these links: What is the “Culture Building” Talk All About?, Building a Strong Company Culture and Identifying Defining Successful Cultural Behavior and Culture Building: The Middle Manager Perspective.