Communication is the crucible of change. Unfortunately, unlike a literal crucible that withstands tremendous heat in order to effect a useful new mix, corporate communication crucibles are often found wanting.
Here are some research facts from my latest work with close to 4,000 employees in over 100 workplaces: Supervisors and managers do a far better job of telling employees things about their workplace than listening to employee opinions (in someplaces it is twice as good). But employees also say that only half of what they are being told is useful!
A great deal of effort is often spent on corporate communication. However in many places the outcomes are uneven at best. There is still a propensity to cascade important information downward. While there’s a time and place for this (changes to workplace conditions and benefits etc.) employees are increasingly feeling like their opinions don’t matter and that what they do offer is considered with indifference.
There are major listen-tell gaps in workplaces. The extent of this is easily determined by just three questions: How often do employees have their opinion sought? How often are employees kept informed by management about issues vital to their workplace? And how useful is the information conveyed to employees? Those core questions will reveal the strength of your crucible of communications. Other questions can address how employees want to be communicated to, about what, from whom, and how often.
What I’m finding (as many of you may be as well) is that as workplaces are inhabited by younger, more gender diverse, better educated employees the need to be heard is increasing at a rapid pace. While technology has certainly changed the available tools of communication I am finding that face-to-face communication is still high on the list of best practices–regardless of age.
So, what is the strength of your own crucible of change? Has your experience shown that the listen-tell ratio has a profound effect on employee engagement, job satisfaction, and morale?