Communication is not a big
challenge in small and medium organizations. Workgroups are small, people know
each other, and there is more face-to-face communication than mail or texting.
However, as the company grows communication becomes quite difficult. According to management gurus, communication
that happens from the bottom to upwards is equally important as the top to
Nowadays, COOs are more
concerned about the flow of communication. Gone are the days when a few people
were having the command-and-control of sending directives from the top. Today,
companies work in a conversational approach where there is enhanced
is the road to success
Earlier, traditional modes
of communication were effective because the economic scenario was quite stable,
and there were a few challenges externally or internally. However, in the
volatile and dynamic economic scenario of the modern era, top leaders of a
company must know the roadmap for three years down the line. Not only the top
officials, but it has to be percolated below. Hence, top-down and bottom-up
both communications become critical.
That is the reason top CEO
across the world highlight the word “conversation” in all their formal and
informal communication. The word gets referred so frequently sometimes that
everyone from top to bottom becomes aware of it. When “organizational
conversation” becomes an approach for a company, then it applies to everything
right from policy formation to implementation. It becomes so obvious that
people do not feel any need to run special communication drive. The flow of
information is universal, proper, and up to the mark.
Creating a culture of
communication is the highest preference for today’s business leaders because it
is incredibly important for a long-term persistence.
What properties indicate
existence of good organizational conversation?
According to experts, four
things denote that the organizational conversation is healthy and effective.
They say that enclosure, interaction, closeness, and intentionality are four
core elements of it. All of them impact different aspects of organizational
culture. Interaction affects the
channels of communication; closeness affects mutual relationship; enclosure
defines the content part, and intentionality defines organizational goals and
It does not mean people
forget organizational decorum and start talking in an informal manner. It also
does not reflect physical closeness because in large organizations spread in
multiple countries it is not possible that people work in the proximity. It is
more related to mental intimacy, mutual trust, authenticity, and hearing others
patiently. There are examples when large companies (typically having thousands
of employees) took efforts to communicate certain vital things like company’s
new vision statement to every single employee, irrespective of practical
difficulties. Though the task was gigantic, employees felt a great closeness
about the vision statement at the end of that massive exercise. The feeling of
intimacy was just unexplainable. It is the power of closeness!
It looks quite logical that
as closeness gets established, interaction also increases in the same
proportion. However, it is not always true. Rather, interaction is more lively
and effective when organizations are small, and most of the times closeness is
the after-effect of it. As organizations
grow bigger and bigger, the interaction decreases. Here, some experts recommend
the use of technology i.e. social media networking. As per them it is not important what
technology one uses for communication, the interaction happens among people is
actually important. However, a few
experts have a different opinion. They feel that the interaction using social
media can’t be a substitute to personal interaction. Rather, it may be a
Enclosure is nothing but
enabling employees to talk about the company, its success stories and failures
too. With a relaxed policy on employee
communication, there is are obvious risks of an uncontrolled release of
information or exposing unwanted information to irrelevant people, but there
can be control measures established to manage it. Experts say that rewards of
enclosure exceed much than the risks.
In the traditional
companies where management believed in keeping stringent control on information
release, there used to be several controls on the top-down messages. However,
today companies believe in an organic approach. There are in-house magazines, functional
dashboards, and regular newsletters to make others aware of what is happening
in a particular function, branch, or region.
Not only internal, but there are external communication channels as well
who talk to customers, clients, or channel partners.
In fact, establishing such
communication channels would be more effective than running expensive marketing
campaigns. It establishes the brand image positively and underlines the strong
aspects of an organization like gender diversity. It encourages people to raise
their voice. Employees respect each other’s job, and there is no need of
running expensive employee engagement programs separately.
A communication program
without a well-specified agenda is not effective at all. It is a complete
wastage of resources. The goal can be anything, to make employees aware of the
competitive strategy of the company or an effort to enhance employee
engagement. The goal can be anything, but it has to be well-articulated and
more importantly; well-communicated.
Setting the tone and
direction are the core responsibilities of organizational leaders. Aligning the
conversation with company’s strategic goals will be effective in implementing
the policies to support the goals. Experts say that significant competitive
advantage can be achieved by intentionality.
It is a fact that many
organizations still do not think conversational leadership a critical aspect
for growth. It is true that the conversation is important, but it is unproductive
without a leadership that is capable of effective implementation. It loses
focus completely and goes off for a toss. Defining a clear framework and
offering a clear purpose about it are most important. When a leader can engage
and involve participants, he or she can translate a conversation into
actionable items. There is an immense power of generating ideas and inspiring
creativity in collective intelligence. Only leaders with high ability of
conversational leadership can leverage it for the benefit of the company. They
bring extraordinary difference in the company by building an effective
architecture for engagement.