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7 Keys To Culture In The Workplace – Communicate for Cooperation

Friday, October 13, 2017 - Joe Kiedinger

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Communication is the key. It’s funny, but whenever I do a survey of employees to begin building a great culture, communication is the #1 area that comes up as “needing improvement”. I feel it will always be this way. You could have the best communication system in the world and some employees will still feel it can improve. The reality is, they’re right!

As your organization grows, communication will need to grow with it. When looking at building healthy culture, don’t get caught up in absolutes. What I mean by this is, culture is always in a state of improvement. You never fully arrive; you always are striving to make it better. There is no finish line. This mindset is critical if one wishes to improve their culture.

If you begin to set some rules and objectives towards the idea of cooperation, communication will naturally improve. The expectation towards cooperation from senior leaders breaks down silos. Silos can create alienation and “us versus them” mindsets. If you are a company leader who is experiencing silos where you work and you wish to improve them, here are some strategies to consider.

Establish rules of communication

Create the rule followed by the why. Rules around collaboration may look something like this:

Collaborate often: Include cross-departmental dialogue in all decisions regarding systems and workflow. When people are a part of the system, cooperation will always increase.

Agree to disagree: If everyone agrees someone is not needed. It’s through respectful dialogue that new ideas and better ways of doing things emerge.

Start with why: When discussing plans and options, begin with why. Understanding why puts clarity on the subject and leads to better outcomes.

Establish rules of respect and behavior

We must spell out and not assume what respect means. Rules should be placed into a verb. They must be actions. For example, simply stating that integrity is a core value in cooperation is not enough. Action behaviors may include:

Talk straight and with courtesy

Listen first, talk second

Forget about me, it’s all about you

Use please and thank you when communicating

Set clear expectations for follow up

Communicate your vision

A written vision for how you, the leader, of your company or department sets the framework for all behavior that follows. All of your rules should point to the vision and why the rule exists. These are personal agreements the team makes in order to increase cooperation, which increases communication.

It’s very impactful to involve all the people in creating the rules of behavior and that they are agreed upon. This is important when first establishing them. Once established, new employees are informed and reminded of them over and over. Rules should be reexamined every couple of years and adjusted as needed.

Your company results will increase when a focus is placed on this key element to a great culture. Everyone wants better communication; make it easy by writing it down so it’s black and white with now grey.

Next week we will move on the next key of a create culture: Understanding!

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Sometimes, all it takes is a little inspiration.

Understanding where others are coming from is critical in communicating and working toward a common cause.