MAD Perspectives Blog

 Corporate Culture & Communication - The Keys to Success

Peggy Dau - Thursday, November 17, 2011

I've been talking with a colleague about companies investigating transformation.  It seems to be present at all types of companies and at all levels within the company, although most companies seem to focus on the technology.  My colleague has led a global consulting practice enabling business transformation for telecommunications operators around the world.  Their focus is business process and organization structure first, before any discussion about technology needs or solutions.  As we've discussed the challenges companies face when they consider transformations to drive new revenue or to reduce operational costs, I've raised the importance of communication during this transformation.

I asked my colleague about her communications as she built her practice.  While she had not thought about a formal communication plan, she did in fact have regularly scheduled discussions with each set of stakeholders. These discussions reinforced goals and progress and provided opportunities for issues to be raised and addressed.  Why were these conversations so important?  Because they gave stakeholders the opportunity to understand the strategy while also giving voice to perceived challenges.  While her desire was to develop a practice focused on systematic change to enable clients to better serve customers, this foundation may not have been sufficient without development of a culture that led to ultimate success.

The culture as embodied by every practice member reflects confident leadership, an empowered team and consistent communication.  The result is trusted client relationships, a team dedicated to facilitating client transitions to build and offer new services, camaraderie enabling rapid solution definition, and commitment to mutual success.  The team shares challenges and success in equal parts, understanding that communication opens the door for insight, acknowledgement and and problem resolutions (if needed). The team uses existing corporate communication tools such as conference calls, email and Sharepoint.

However, successful communication is not about the tool itself, it's about defining what needs to be communicated, understanding the concerns of all stakeholders and addressing those concerns.  As I've spoken to various members of this practice, I've recognized a common thread.  Each consultant is uniquely focused on understanding how the defined transformation will impact each business group involved.  While they may not acknowledge it themselves, their open communication as they work with clients is a key factor in their success.  Each of them develop strategies and goals with senior management, yet they work across all levels of individuals to understand impact, identify existing and perceived challenges and reinforce business benefit.  

It is through a culture of inclusiveness, awareness, innovation and empowerment that organizations can transform for greater business success.  Transformation is not possible without persistent, consistent, two-way communication.   Does your culture empower individuals to communicate openly?  Do your employees really understand the reasons behind organizational change?  Have you shared the business benefits of new initiatives at a micro level, rather than at a corporate level?  Even if your current culture doesn't seem to support open communication, it is possible to change.  

Think about the companies you most admire.  It is likely that they clearly communicate goals and impact to all levels.  It is likely that they empower individuals to make decisions AND make mistakes.  It is likely that they enable employees to easily communicate with each other AND with senior management.  Corporate culture and effective communication go hand in hand. Is it ready to enjoy the positive, productivity inducing energy that effective, interactive communication can provide?

What's your perspective?