When analyzing the effectiveness of organizational communication, it is important to expand one’s view beyond managerial concerns. One of the advantages of the 360 degree or similar review processes is gathering feedback from employees on all levels of the organization.
Just as we see class conflicts in society, we are consistently trying to overcome organizational class conflict; that is, the “them against us” perspective of many front line workers. This dysfunction seems to permeate all manner of organization cultures. Is it possible to create a work environment in which employees feel valued instead of believing the fundamental nature of working for someone else is to view the company itself as an instrument of oppression?
Yes, it is possible, based on my experiences with employees from several companies. There are critical factors that consistently arise:
1. “They never tell us what’s going on around here.” Formal systems are necessary so employees know what is going on in the “big picture” and how those initiatives impact them (how does everything effect me?). Report out on the activities in all departments and how those activities support organization goals. Of key interest to employees is being consulted prior to changes being made that impact their roles or tasks.
2. “Why should we tell supervisors anything? They don’t care or do anything.” Hire action-oriented supervisors who are willing – and capable! – to face conflict honestly and openly identify root cause issues. This includes going head-to-head with managers in an effort to advocate for their teams. Supervisors must take action and report back to their teams if employees are to feel valued. This level of engagement requires supervisors who are present consistently with the employees being supervised. Employees tend to take a grim view of being evaluated by people who aren’t “here”.
3. Rewards, financial and otherwise, MATTER. Employees need to see a direct correlation between their increased work load and responsibilities, profits, and positive results for them. If they are asked to do more with fewer resources, they want to “take that to the bank” in one form or another. Reasonable employees understand they can’t get raises continually. However, gas cards, restaurant cards, cash prizes, complimentary meals at work, lunch with the big boss, and other such efforts provided consistently demonstrate appreciation of employees as people, not just cogs in the profit machine.
This week study communication from the top down in your organization. Who is responsible for sharing information with front line employees? Do those people have a track record of communication accuracy and enthusiasm? What formal communication processes are in place to bridge the troublesome gap between front line workers and managers? If you aren’t sure what employees think of organizational communication effectiveness – ask them…and take action based on their feedback.