What Is a Lack of Communication Doing to Your Company's Culture

by Chris Young

lack of communication in the workplaceLack of communication in the workplace is more than just a minor problem to your company. From my experience over the dozen years - few companies and few teams communicate well.

When left unmanaged, lack of communication will be the direct cause of numerous problems that can cause dysfunction among the ranks, dissatisfaction among employees, and even drive away customers. In short, lack of communication will really do some damage to your business.  Whether you are just developing your company's culture, or if you are trying to build upon and maintain it, it is vital to keep communication open in the workplace.

Most successful companies are quick to acknowledge that there would be no happy customers without happy employees.  Businesses who cultivate a culture that is open where employee team members can share their concerns and ideas enjoy lower employee turnover rates and higher customer satisfaction levels.  The correlation is not just a coincidence; employees who are happy with their jobs provide a much better experience to the customers and to their employers as well.

Communication and Trust Go Hand in Hand

A great example of this is Zappos.  The online retailer's reputation as both a successful business and an amazing place to work was built upon a company culture of fun, respect, and understanding.  One of their Ten Core Values is 'Build Open and Honest Relationships Through Communication'.  They understand the importance of allowing employees not only the ability to communicate their concerns in the workplace, but also the necessity of encouraging this communication to take place.

Often, it is not enough to simply have an 'open door policy'.  Employees that don't feel secure enough to walk through that door in the first place effectively stop the communication before it can start.  Many times a lack of communication in the workplace is a symptom of a bigger problem with your company's culture.  Without trust between employers and employees, the framework of success will not be a strong one, and your business could falter.

Communication Lets Employees Own Their Jobs

When employees feel that their concerns are being listened to and addressed they feel a larger sense of pride and responsibility in their jobs.  By engaging in regular communication with their employers, employees are more likely to have greater job satisfaction and in turn will provide much better results to the company.

When there is a lack of communication in the workplace there are often more problems to follow.  Poor communication leads to job dissatisfaction and poor service as well as a higher employee turnover rate.  It can also lead to an unpleasant work environment riddled with negativity and gossip.  If staff feel that their concerns are not being listened to they may actively engage in activity that could reflect badly on your company.  Almost every time that this happens, it could have been avoided if there had been more open communication in the workplace.

Communication Must Be Carefully Cultivated

The key with communication is awareness of Behavioral Style and the creation of "communication norms".  

It is not enough to say, "Let's communicate more."  People are "wired" to react to life situations based upon their Behavioral Style.  Therefore, it is important to create awareness in employee team members regarding their Behavioral Style and that of others.  A communication technique one person likes may be one that drives another crazy.  Through awareness of Behavioral Style and creating a "communication dos and don'ts list" - one can actually customize their communication style to meet the needs of fellow team members and Customers.  This communication technique can be powerful.  

A second powerful way to improve communication is through "communication norms".  Every human being is "wired" to be who they are Behaviorally.  The "flexxing" of our Behavioral Style takes energy and often takes a conscious commitment to do so.  Therefore, it is important to have "communication norms" that facilitate the discussion of important issues.  This may be accomplished during meetings by requiring each participant to share something in particular during the agenda as well as during the discussion of a particular issue.  

Work Should Be Fun

Southwest Airlines has been listed in the top 20 places to work for three years in a row on the website glassdoor.com.  They have achieved this by fostering a company culture that includes a focus on communication not only with their customers, but amongst their employees as well.  They understand that a lack of communication in the workplace just doesn't jive with the 'Golden Rule' mentality that they try to instill amongst their workers.  By providing an inclusive, fun-loving environment they have managed to also build one that is devoted to great customer service.

Sometimes it is too easy to rely on the term 'professionalism' to dictate the culture of your company.  While you certainly don't want to act unprofessional, you do need to remember that a company consists of lots of individuals who are going to have differences of opinions and beliefs.  If there is no opportunity for communication in the workplace, not only may you build an environment of resentment and negativity, but you could just be missing out on some great opportunities to build your business.  There may be some fantastic ideas rattling around inside your employee's brains, but if you do not give them the chance to let them out, you could be the one missing out.

Do not let a lack of communication in the workplace wreck your company's culture.  Be proactive and interactive, and encourage an environment of open, healthy communication so that your employees can achieve their true potential, and your business can be a truly successful one.