When I say “good communication” do you think I am talking about people being polite to each other?
Sure, that’s part of it. No one wants to collaborate with people who treat us rudely. And yet good communication is so much more than that.
It is senior management allowing people to speak up about things going wrong and not shooting the messenger. It is middle managers who make it safe for employees to push back – reasonably, of course – with empathy for the effort required to change. And it is employees who strive to make their greatest contribution, even when we feel we might be doing more than our share today.
Why should anyone put all this effort into behaving in ways that help other people feel comfortable? Because it’s a crucial factor in managing people well. Good people management increases individual and group productivity, as well as quality levels.
Think of it as treating your employees right, demonstrating the behaviour you would like them to show toward the people who buy your products or services. Customer service expert Jeff Disend says, “How companies act toward employees largely determines how well employees will serve customers.” (How to Provide Excellent Service in Any Organization).
There is no sense in taking employees through customer service training – or any other type for that matter – unless we allow them to exercise the new behaviours they have learned. Without permission to integrate the changes, people just snap right back to their previous ways.
So, who goes first? In Is Silence Killing Your Company, Leslie Perlow and Stephanie Williams (Harvard Business Review, May 2003) look at the price of silence in several different types of organizations. They acknowledge that, “We all have the power to express ourselves and to encourage others to speak freely we need to be willing to take the first step ourselves – to bring differences out into the open so that they can be explored.”
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Copyright(c) 2013 Carol J. Sutton Cert.ConRes.