What is company culture, and why do so many leaders within companies want to improve it? Company culture, also called organizational culture, is the sum of many factors: work environment, company values, ideology, rules, vision and communication patterns.
Culture is not necessarily something businesses can consciously create—mainly due to the fact that it arises naturally as a result of many underlying decisions and features. It’s more of a deep-rooted personality than a mask you can change at will. But companies can certainly strengthen it by taking an honest look at their patterns and trying to improve them continually.
Communication in Company Culture
Communication is key in strengthening company culture. After all, it impacts everything from how organizations reach decisions to how employees regard one another. According to one HuffPost contributor and leadership expert, culture can benefit from better communication in these three ways:
- Increased employee productivity: Better collective communication tends to boost overall company performance because people are empowered to share valuable ideas.
- Increased employee job satisfaction: Better top-down and bottom-down communication helps employees feel more invested in their roles.
- Lower rates of absenteeism and turnover: Stronger communication as part of a cohesive company culture makes people want to stick around, potentially reducing costly turnover rates.
Communication is not the sole determiner of company culture, but it’s a significant building block. It affects everything from the most minute interaction between a manager and employee to the overall impact of all-hands meetings. Organizations will only ever glean the best ideas and insights if they facilitate open, transparent, honest and fair communication at every level.
Strategies for Improving Group Communication
First, consider the basic goals of your overall communication efforts. Here’s some advice from Management Study Guide: “Every employee should be treated equally, and no one should feel neglected or left out at the workplace. Quick feedbacks are important.”
Employees start feeling neglected when they perceive their voice is either getting lost in the shuffle or when they don’t feel comfortable enough to voice opinions in the first place for fear of retribution. This necessitates companies reconsidering their approach to collecting employee feedback. Consider these differing approaches to gathering
Scenario A: The CEO of a company wants employee feedback on a new initiative. She gives a presentation about the initiative and the research behind it at a town hall-style meeting. Then she asks if anyone has questions. Employees raise their hands and stand to speak when called upon.
Scenario B: The CEO of a company is seeking employee feedback to help shape a new initiative. She gives a presentation and the underlying research during a companywide meeting. She embeds a Google poll within the presentation, allowing employees to answer a series of questions using their mobile devices. They can also contribute open-ended feedback and upvote others’ questions and comments, ensuring they move to the top of the queue.
Which scenario will produce better feedback and contribute more significantly to a company culture of open communication? Well, the former scenario favors only the most forthright employees while neglecting those who are more reserved. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee everyone will have a chance to chip in their two cents, since one-at-a-time contributions tend to eat up more time. The latter makes contributing input an evenhanded process, encouraging everyone to offer up their unique point of view. Plus, the real-time nature of live polling helps employees see where their colleagues stand—and can spark some interesting discussions based on the results.
Without open communication, you can only strengthen your company culture so much. Make sure you’re setting conditions in which employees can contribute to decision-making and the overall direction of the organization.