How to Strengthen Your Company Culture
In this article, we’re going to talk about 5 good communication skills and areas that affect your company’s performance and culture. By knowing these areas, you’ll be able to address them as a leader. You would also create programs to nurture and encourage effective communications.
How Many Documents Does Your Company Produce Each Month?
Tens and even hundreds of performance reports, project evaluations, business plans, proposals for clients, partner emails, and others. Whether you’re a great writer or not, you’re going to have to compose a lot of documents. And many of them will have a profound effect on your company.
For example, a missing comma can cost up to $5 million. As the BBC reported, a U.S.-based company had to compensate their 120 lorry drivers this amount because of the error that led to a lot of overtime hours.
Besides, writing, there’s another pillar of your company’s effectiveness: verbal communication. Many mistakes can happen there. Tone, words, and style are just some of the areas where they occur regularly. Indeed, ambiguous language or a lack of knowledge of the target audience are huge barriers in the workplace. They prevent everyone from being on the same page and achieving the company’s goals.
1. Organisational Announcement Skills
‘In this fall, I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.’
That’s how LeBron James, an NBA superstar and a beloved athlete in his native Ohio, announced his departure to Florida-based Heat team. He, however, made the announcement in a quite interesting way. Instead of a press conference with a room full of reporters, James opted for a massive television special on ESPN.
‘The Decision’ (that’s how the special was called), was a big deal. It had special music, video effects, bright lights, well, almost everything you need to make a high-rated movie. Many people in Ohio perceived this act as disrespectful, close to the point of being insulting. That’s why people burned his jerseys and publicly hated on him. They treated James as a traitor.
A year later, when asked about how he would redo the announcement, James acknowledged that such a message was, well, too overwhelming. That’s why the return to his home state team was quietly announced in an essay in Sports Illustrated.
Although this example may seem to have very little to do with business communication, it serves as a very important example of business leaders:
The tone of the message is equally important as the content.
This perfectly applies to the workplace. A message delivered to every staff member will have a very different effect from a targeted email sent to a group of employees or face-to-face meetings. That’s why if you need to share something important – something that people from different departments could perceive differently – try your best to deliver it in a targeted, personalised way.
This applies to verbal communication as well. In fact, according to the Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, 38 percent of our message comes from the tone of voice.
2. Clear Written Communication Skills
Poor written communication is a major barrier that may prevent a company from achieving its goals. If ambiguous language is involved in internal organisational communication, chances are that the employees will have to spend more time on figuring out what they want from each other.
The main problem is the lack of clear writing skills in employees, which can lead to delays and misunderstanding when added with the wide range of mistakes to be made. Some of them are quite silly but still have a profound effect due to the introduced vagueness.
Is ‘irregardless’ a word? Even though most dictionaries consider it to be non-standard, many people use it in everyday written communication. In fact, in this Grammarly survey, 21 percent of respondents said it was a legitimate word, with 5 percent of people being unsure about it.
Indeed, 26 percent is a lot of people, and they can inadvertently make this mistake and cause misunderstanding.
So how to minimise ambiguity in internal written communication. It’s your job as a leader to take the first step to embrace clarity.
Here are some ideas;
- Provide templates for writing. To help employees with writing standardised messages, have a number of pre-approved templates ready. These could be client/partner emails, meeting plans, etc.
- Talk about abbreviations. Different teams in your organisation may use professional jargon that includes abbreviations and words that others may not understand. Establish clear rules on using them and explain why being clear is important for both internal and external communication.
- Start a writing coaching program. Such an initiative would provide employees with business writing skills and teach specific strategies to avoid unclear language. It would also show how to communicate in a way that conforms to the organisational mission and values.
- Have a regular informal meeting to discuss document writing and internal communication. Listen to employees’ feedback and talk about the most common mistakes. For example, analyse the language that the employees use, and check if there’s room for simplifying it by using natural language, bullet points, etc.
- Share resources like The Ultimate Guide to Communication Skills with your employees and discuss section by section in dedicated meetings.
3. Eliminate Some Approval Steps
If your organisation has a number of steps in place for content approval, then you should check if they are indeed necessary. It goes without saying that businesses need to act quickly, and maybe the approval process slows you down a bit.
An effective internal communication strategy can have a very short content approval chain to allow quick reaction, especially in crisis times.
Here are some ideas to ensure that.
Take a close look at the existing content approval workflow in your organisation. Are there some steps where content gets stuck often? Or maybe there are redundant steps that should be removed altogether? The main goal here is to not remove as many people as possible but rather optimise the process.
Also, evaluate the parameters and requirements for content submission; for example, do employees submit their work or messages via an online communication tool or email? Who are the managers responsible for receiving and analysing this content? Who is responsible for edits and making changes? What happens when content gets approved or rejected? The answers to these questions combined with the feedback from your employees will help to eliminate unnecessary steps.
Standardise the content strategy if your organisation has to meet legal obligations. Formatting specifications, legal obligations, business writing style – all of this should be standardised for businesses operating in finance, healthcare, and other industries with legal requirements
Have a dedicated internal communication platform. Skype, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and many others – these are just some of the examples that should consider for interdepartmental communication. However, keep in mind that different departments may prefer to use specific communication tools, so relying on one single channel may not be possible.
4. Verbal Communication Skills
Communication – of which verbal skills are a big part – is the second most important skill which employers look for in candidates in 2018, according to Business Insider. Indeed, verbal communication skills – the art of saying just enough – is something that many people lack, so teaching these skills is an important consideration for many companies.
Without a doubt, proper verbal communication skills are a critical pillar of your company’s culture. Here’s what it brings to the table:
- Proper verbal communication skills help employees to ensure that their message is easily understood and the point is conveyed.
- Good communication skills include listening. The better listeners your employees are, the better communicators they are. This helps to speed up internal processes and build better relationships with customers.
- Better and more effective meetings. A person with great verbal communication skills has a much better chance to maximise the productivity of meetings by properly managing the time and resources that are available to them. As a result, fewer meeting attendees will feel that they could’ve spent that time doing better things.
5. Positiveness in Everyday Communication
A workforce with good verbal communication skills will try to stay positive while interacting both inside and outside of the organisation. This brings many benefits: for example, they include fewer ‘making things personal’ situations, as positive communicators typically keep things professional and avoid conflicts.
For example, receiving positive and constructive feedback from leaders can make employees not only feel good but also proud of their work. When a manager lets an employee know that their contribution is valuable, then the latter will feel more motivated, capable, and willing to do more for the organisation.
Here are some tips for managers to encourage good communication and organisational culture:
- Always try to resolve misunderstandings as soon as they occur to avoid blaming someone later.
- Use language that enables positive thinking, e.g. ‘you’re a valuable member of the marketing team!’.
- Try to understand an employee’s position and challenges before giving them feedback. This way, you’ll know how to talk to them in a way that maximises the chance of them accepting your proposals without resisting.
- A smile and a thank you go a long way.
- Complimenting employees on their achievements, e.g. ‘that was a great presentation!’.
Hosting effective meetings, building excellent relationships with clients, or talking about a new project with colleagues requires much more than business-savviness. To make sure you convey your point well and people understand it, you need to have sufficient verbal and non-verbal communication skills. On the scale of an organisation, this means an even broader set of skills, with the five essential of them described above.
When applied properly together, these good communication skills can introduce and reinforce effective communication practices in your organisation and create a more positive, productive, and strong culture.
Donald Fomby has more than 6 years in business writing, web content writing, and Spanish translation services on PickWriters.