With the development of smartphones, text messaging capabilities, email, social media and other tools, it is easier than ever to communicate with people in the next room or around the world. So why has the quality of communication in business declined?
Professional communications has been a hot subject on this blog in recent weeks. We discussed the proper way to send client emails in “Managing and Navigating Client Relationships Via Email” and I touched on how new communication technologies have sparked an evolution in the relationship between CEOs and their employees. While email, instant messaging, texting, video chat and other tools can all be extremely useful for keeping in contact with employees wherever they are located, entrepreneurs should also work to make sure such technology is not preventing meaningful connections between team members. The way we interact with each other in business is one of the defining characteristics of corporate culture.
Do you find yourself taking the easy way out when you need to address team members, such as sending an email when the issue merits a meeting in the conference room? Have you found that your meaning becomes skewed because you send text messages instead of picking up the phone? Has your corporate culture lost some of its zest because no one talks out loud in the office anymore? These are easy traps that we have all fallen into at one point or another. Once you are aware of the problem, you can create steps to break the habit and reconnect with your employees, reinforcing or patching up the culture in the process.
A few years ago, the Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry issued a report about the importance of corporate culture. Researching data from Japanese firms, the authors found that the strength of a corporation’s culture can have major impacts on performance, management structure, financial structure and employment policies. The researchers analyzed mission statements and whether each firm had methods for “embedding” its mission to every employee. Those with strong cultures shared a few commonalities – some prominently displayed their missions in the office or included them in training programs. In slightly fewer than one-fifth of the surveyed organizations, CEOs and presidents worked the missions into their speeches, daily operations and written statements.
Be sure that you are not sacrificing culture for the sake of productivity. Even when employees are working remotely or in another part of the office, take the few extra moments to include a personal touch or craft a clearer message. Your culture, and the quality of your professional communications, will benefit.