Research has consistently shown that this close communication climate in organizations has these six distinct characteristics:
1. EMPLOYEES ARE NOT VALUED
Employees here are not a reservoir of information. They are not too been heard and to feel that they are making significant contributions in their workplaces. The manner in which you hear them will shape, to a large degree, whether or not they feel valued. Nothing is more demoralizing than asking employees for suggestions, then ignoring them, without clearly explaining why. When you ignore their ideas, you are sending the message that their opinions don’t count. When employees don’t think their opinion counts, they feel detached and insignificant. Ultimately, this impacts the employees’ attitude, which, in turn, impacts customer service. On the other hand, when you recognize an employee’s suggestion – whether you implement the suggestion or not – it builds confidence in the company and reinforces to employees that their efforts can make the organization better. In essence, employees are happier and more motivated when they feel that they are appreciated and treated with respect.
2. THERE IS NO HIGH LEVEL OF TRUST
Trust forms the foundation for open communication, employee retention and employee motivation. Trust is empowering. Individuals who trust the people they work with are self-assured, open and honest, willing to take risks, less resistant to change, and inclined to act in a trustworthy manner. In contrast, individuals who distrust the people they work with tend to be less productive because they feel unsupported and alone. Trust in an organization promotes cooperation, commitment and a free flow of ideas. It can help an organization survive and achieve a competitive advantage. A key factor in maintaining a high level of trust is to always tell the truth.
3. CONFLICTS ARE NOT SOLVED POSITIVELY
Conflict itself isn’t good or bad – it’s just inevitable. Make it work for you by using it to invite normal give and take dialogue with employees. When dealing with conflict, be open-minded and listen. Take into account the employees’ feelings about the situation and find areas within their position in which you can both agree. If at all possible, strive for a win/win. If you don’t have conflict, you don’t have innovation and creativity.
4. CREATIVE DESCENT IS NOT WELCOMED
Surveys have consistently showed that most employees are afraid to question or disagree with their superiors. However, in an organization where the leaders are committed to fostering an open communication climate, dissent is not only welcomed but rewarded. Employees are encouraged to think, question and form independent judgments, and take responsibility for changing the way business is done. One way to encourage employees to think is initiating an employee suggestion program. This allows the employees to come up with ideas on how to improve the company, and they are in turn rewarded for that. Being able to express unique ideas allows the employee to feel as if they contributed to the company in a positive way.
5. EMPLOYEES ARE NOT WELL INFORMED
While the grapevine can be a credible source for communication, to avoid misunderstanding and miscommunication, it is best to use formal vehicles (meetings, memos, e-mail, etc.) to keep employees informed on what is happening within the organization. If these tools are not put into effect, then you are putting your company at risk due to the lack of knowledge, interaction, support and formal communication.
6. EMPLOYEES INPUT IS NOT SOLICITED
In any serious world-class quality effort, a key requirement is that all employees, (regardless of race, gender, religion, culture, language, sexual orientation, age, etc.) at all levels, be involved to their fullest abilities. Employee input is a key to an organization’s success. Do not limit open communication to only staff meetings. Create a questionnaire or grievance form in which employees can express concerns in a guaranteed confidential manner and then discuss it openly during a meeting. This method will help to provide information regarding your company that you may or may not be aware of and it will also establish a sense of involvement, improves working relations and security for the employee.