Having meaningful conversations.
When a company is small, communication among employees is pretty simple; you can just go over to them and chat! But as a company grows, communication becomes more difficult. And strategic direction can suffer as a result, even if those at the top assume otherwise.
The easy remedy to this potential minefield of pain and angst is to revert to the classic command-and-control structure in which a few people are sending all the directives from the top of the corporate hierarchy.
Wise managers are doing something different. They are having conversations. Chatting and talking. Asking and probing. Listening and thinking. Nothing but nothing betters a good face-to-face session for creating a clear message and contributing to the bottom-line.
Good organisational conversations – the Four “I” approach.
INTIMACY: You do not need physical proximity, which may be impossible given geography in your organisation, but does involve emotional or mental intimacy. This involves trust and listening skills. Get your staff to actually share their thoughts and opinions – this may be a little scary but imagine what gems you could uncover.
INTERACTIVITY: Once some intimacy has been established the trick is to keep the conversation alive and moving so that the dialogue becomes richer and more valuable. Not a problem for big organisations (internal blogs, wikis and online communities are all possible over great distances) so why can’t you do this on a smaller scale within your own organisation? You don’t need high technology to run and develop an interactive culture.
INCLUSION: Why not let the staff take control of the communication process? They have a tale to tell about the company, their experiences and opinions which make the organisation that much richer. Let Departments share their good news, successes, opinions of the sales and marketing strategies, encourage customers to blog about the company. Scary, but empowering to harness all of this latent talent and passion. Get rid of the traditional command-and-control communication media and style and go organic.
INTENTIONALITY: Let the talk have a purpose and a reference. The conversations you are instigating must have a goal, perhaps to help shape the direction the organisation develops into?
A good conversation brings competitive advantage – as a leader you cannot know everything and your staff will have many good ideas. It’s just that you have not chatted to them.