In organizational hierarchies, we often find that while levels of communication are great in the upper echelons, they fail to meet employee needs at a more local level. If you have seen or experienced this in your organization, it might be time to take a look at levels of communication on a more fundamental level. It is important to understand that is critical for local managers, team leaders and supervisors to have good, if not excellent interpersonal communications skills. These are the people within the organization who are responsible for team or ‘cohesive’ group communication and individual communication with employees one-on-one. These mid-management leaders are also the employees who develop working relationships with front-line personnel.
There are four vital levels on which communication needs to be addressed within an organisation; these are:
- Organization-wide – involves communicating with all employees
- Departmental – which is specific to communication within one business unit or department
- Team – communicating within a cohesive group or a team
- Individual – one-on-one employee communication at any one time
We live and work in a global community today and gone are the days when any one of these levels can be ignored for a business still to thrive. Communication between and within all organizational levels has replaced the impenetrable barriers that we used to see between departments, units and/or even teams in the past. Even intra-national and international divides within the same organization have been torn down, as fierce competition on a world-wide scale demands that an organization collaborates organically to achieve strategic group objectives.
Workplace communication practices at their most fundamental level impact every facet of any business, especially in the case of a rapidly growing organization; regardless of where it is in its life-cycle. Communication needs to increase exponentially as more employees, or stakeholders are added to an organization. We see this in the rapidly expanding online affiliate industry for example. Where every member is their own man, but every member also needs to work as a small part of a large whole in order to reach agreed upon strategic objectives. The affiliate industry knows the importance of great communication at all levels.
Employee communication and/or well designed organizational culture surveys can assist to determine how well current communication systems are working; bearing in mind the four fundamental levels of communication which need to be met. Surveys are also great tools for assessing how current communications systems are getting in the way of the performance of the organization – and they can get in the way!
The more information you have, the more help you will have to devise an effective strategy. So, no matter how daunting a task it may seem to cook up a communications culture survey, it is well worth the effort at the end of the day. Because effective communication has become such an important part of organizational structures that want to achieve peak performance, there is also plenty of professional help available. Further investigation into evaluation tools is never a waste of time, energy or resources. Customizable employee communication survey forms can even be found online.
The fundamentals of workplace communication encompass method, style, timing, content frequency and skill, and these are important factors to include on a survey. It should also review; organizational strategy, day-to-day operations, and changes in the organization, and a survey can be effectively completed in either soft or hard copy. While consolidating and analyzing survey results may require more in-depth professional help. That having been said, there is no time like the present to get started, and rolling out a survey does not have to be difficult.
Even the most technologically advanced systems of today can no longer guarantee competitiveness in any marketplace. People are the key differentiator in competing industries, and creating a communication culture where every employee or stakeholder wants to do only their best is still a major challenge. But like all challenges, when they are dealt with in concrete terms, the outcomes from a practical point of view are better than never having made an attempt to go that extra mile.