Nowadays, opening a business or creating a company is becoming easier every day. This trend is undoubtedly positive since it leads to the development of society, as well as the emergence of breakthrough ideas and technologies. Despite this, this process is associated with certain difficulties: many people are entirely unprepared for functioning in the work team, and corporate communication is difficult for them. The problems they face are close relationships with colleagues, inability to accept criticism of superiors, isolation from the team, lack of understanding of the corporate values, and others.
The responsibility for adaptation in the team and interaction with the company lies primarily with the employee. They are free to choose the patterns of behavior and attitude towards people, situations, and the company as a whole. However, this is far from being possible for everyone, since these topics are rarely discussed in colleges and universities, and a person starts working unprepared (Getchell & Lentz, 2019).
To avoid conflict and inconvenient situations, the company’s managers must, first of all, pay attention to the organization of corporate culture. In addition to developing the company’s image and maintaining a healthy atmosphere in the office, this also includes working on organizational communication. Perry and Miller (2017) state that “communication is the modus operandi of professional and personal life” (p. 17). This means that it is the key to creating a genuinely prosperous company. The purpose of this paper is to propose several techniques useful for corporate communication and applicable in practice.
Strategy 1. Productive Listening
At first glance, it might seem that in a dialogue or polylogue, people always listen to each other. Even if people communicate with each other, they are not always ready to understand their interlocutors: they listen, but they do not hear. Often, a person with a higher position is more inclined to express and defend an opinion, even if it diverges from the views of the majority. Meanwhile, the same understanding of what is happening by all employees is a key point for the proper functioning of the organization. There are many ways to learn to listen and respect each other; in this paper, only a few of them are listed.
The participants of communication usually get a huge amount of information daily, not allowing them to perceive all oral messages equally. We listen to colleagues, friends, family members, and other people for a few hours a day without even noticing it. It is also important to consider the time spent by radio or television. It becomes obvious that maintaining attention during business communication may be difficult for some people.
The main thing to remember is the need to listen to a person until the end of the speech and let him or her express all the thoughts. During the listening, it is very important to make clear to the interlocutor that he or she is understood, accepted, and attracts attention. There are different ways to show this, for instance, eye contact, counter-questions, words of confirmation, or making notes (Perry and Miller, 2017).
Thus, the listening person not only confirms the interest in the interlocutor but also actually listens more attentively. It is vital to remember that even having an opposite point of view, it is unacceptable to just interrupt a person. The goal here is to understand him or her completely and only then give arguments that can refute his or her. Perhaps some of them will no longer be relevant after the listening process.
A crucial aspect of productive listening in silence, which can occur both during and after a person’s speech. It’s better not to express the opinion immediately after the interlocutor became silent: perhaps he or she took a break to ponder the thought and then continue it. If he or she has finished the speech, it is worth taking some time to reflect on the arguments and respond constructively. If company employees know how to listen and hear each other, then they interact at a different level of understanding.
Strategy 2. Gamification
The work and learning process should be interesting to make people remember the information and become closer to each other. Researchers note that “gamification is a trend that uses game design techniques to increase motivation and engagement” (Guffey and Loewy, 2018, p. 13). One of the best options for creating strong relationships within the company is a game. Even though this is not applicable in all areas of corporate culture, sometimes it can be appropriate and very productive. Gamification can be used both in the workflow and during events held outside the office.
Gamification provides a large scope for imagination: for example, it can be used in working with employees’ indicators. An example from sales: a board may hang in the office, on which the number of referred clients or signed contracts for each manager is written. At the end of each month, the manager with the best results receives a worthy reward. In this situation, it is important to make the “victory” achievable and not to demotivate other employees with a too valuable prize. This will add a competitive element to work and will make people more motivated.
Gamification can also be used for team building during corporate training: this can be weekly office events or a joint outing on the weekend. Games can be selected with a specific purpose, for example, increasing confidence or asking questions. Such events may even include physical activities, in which people are divided into teams, regardless of status in the company. In this way, they will be able to become closer and get to know each other better, which will lead to a better understanding at work.
In addition, gamification can be used not only in the workflow but also when adapting to new employees. If during training, people have an emotional reaction to the process, they will remember the information quickly and for a longer period. It is necessary to make the learning process interesting and allow them to make mistakes and learn from them. Also, the process should include games for interaction with other employees so that a new person gets used to colleagues more quickly. Thanks to this, people will not even notice how they will accept each other and tune in to productive interaction.
Strategy 3. Convenience for Every Employee
There are a huge number of people with different temperaments, character traits, and types of perception of information. Some people like to talk and prefer to discuss important issues during long meetings. Others are not comfortable with this type of interaction: they prefer clear and concise information received in writing. In addition, some companies are very large or even have branches in several countries, so it is not possible to bring all employees together. From the very beginning of the existence of the company, it is necessary to correctly select the tools of interaction between employees, in particular electronic ones.
At the moment, people have more ways of communication than before. According to Mautner and Rainer (2017), “until mobile communication became commonplace, real-time communication was possible only with those physically present” (p. 169). There are many convenient tools for written interaction between employees and data storage. Some of the key principles: storing data in one cloud space, chatting in a specific messenger, or using a common electronic calendar. Thus, all employees will be working in the same electronic space. Thanks to this, the company will be able to avoid situations where important information or a file is lost: everything will be recorded.
In addition, the electronic communication system should be accompanied by clear instructions. Firstly, it is always relevant when a new employee needs to understand the functioning of an entire company. Secondly, this may be necessary when introducing a new tool: if its functions and interaction with other tools are clearly described, it will be easier for everyone to master it. It is much better to do this at the very beginning of the creation of the company. The larger it becomes, the more difficult it is to collect and describe all of its processes.
Strategy 4. Common Goal
Most productive and stable companies succeed not only through hard work and high productivity. One of the important factors for achieving success is the presence of a specific goal or mission for the company. However, this goal should not be known only to managers: employees of the company also need to understand what and why they are doing. Such details are also established and explained in the communication process; in addition, managers will need to constantly review the goals of the company based on the current situation.
One of the easiest and most productive ways to identify the key values of a company is to get together and discuss them. If the company is large, then the discussion will have to be divided into departments, but the result should be a common understanding of where the company is moving. After such meetings, each employee will understand what place he occupies in the organization and will become more respectful and responsible for his work. In addition, resolving this issue will lead to more productive communication between employees, as they will look at the things discussed from the same point of view.
However, employees do not always agree with the company’s views and goals. Researchers note that “businesses can behave, for example, by using their size and purchasing power to bully and dictate terms to smaller suppliers” (Digby, 2017, p. 22).
In such cases, it may not be easy for employees to keep working if they do not adhere to the views of the company leaders. In this case, the responsibility lies with managers: they can revise their strategy or try to find a common language with employees who do not accept their policies. There is always a way out, but creating a company’s mission by joint efforts is much simpler when its superiors are guided by universal human values and moral principles. According to Schwartz (2017), “both individual and situational reasons are equally important when it comes to explaining ethical decision making” (p. 24). It means that the “behavior” of the company may often depend on the situation, but the employees must be aware of the reasons and consequences.
Strategy 5. Competent Feedback
Another aspect of the interaction between a boss and a subordinate is timely, fair, and clear feedback. The very word leader contains in its meaning to lead people: lead them to achieve certain goals and accomplish certain tasks. However, the manager needs to correctly alternate between positive and negative feedback, even if it may seem complicated. This kind of interaction often lies with HR managers, but personal contact with the leader is also necessary.
Negative feedback often causes difficulties: both for superiors and subordinates. The leader may be worried about the need to upset and possibly even demotivate the employee. In addition, the very fact that his or her subordinate is not working well already negatively affects his or her condition. On the part of the subordinate, negative feedback can cause dissatisfaction with oneself, a lack of desire to work, and even a bad attitude towards superiors.
Researchers state that “when not communicated properly, negative feedback can demoralize employees, arouse anger, and even decrease employee performance” (Scott & Lewis, 2017, p. 1146). For these reasons, it is necessary to make the negative feedback as constructive as possible so that the person who receives it has something to work on. It should act as a motivator that will help a person understand what he or she needs to improve to work better.
Positive feedback may seem like a much simpler and more enjoyable way to interact, but managers should be careful with it too. If the boss always praises a subordinate and admires the quality of his or her work, there can be consequences. For example, the self-esteem of the employee will rise so much that he or she will do poor quality work because the boss likes him or her anyway. In another case, the employee can keep working just as well, but the boss will get used to it and stop marking it, which can also lead to demotivation.
Speaking about the benefits of high-quality feedback, it is a great tool to develop mutual understanding and mutual trust and support his or her motivation. It also allows a leader to maintain a positive atmosphere in the organization, increase productivity, and form a team approach to work. Besides, it helps identify the level of employee satisfaction with work in the company and the team. In short, correctly giving and receiving feedback can make the company much stronger and even more profitable.
In the modern world, communication is one of the key success factors for any company. Even now, a lot of work that people used to do can be automated. Because of this, decisions that only a living person can make become much more valuable. Even more important in this situation are ideas created using the collective mind. However, if the communication process in the company is not established, then the work of the organization itself may suffer from this. To study the interaction between company employees, many courses are being developed, psychologists are actively working in this area, new books are regularly published.
This means that a competent leader always remembers and thinks about the people he hired and tries to make the atmosphere in the team healthy. They appreciate this attitude of management since they are aware of their place in the company and are interested in productive communication with colleagues. It is such organizations that are the most successful since all the “details” work smoothly and show good results.
Digby, J. (2017). Fixing Business: Making Profitable Business Work For The Good of All. Wiley.
Getchell, K. M., & Lentz, P. (Eds.) (2019). Rhetorical Theory and Praxis in the Business Communication Classroom. Routledge.
Guffey, M. E., & Loewy, D. (2018). Business Communication: Process & Product. 9th ed. Cengage Learning.
Mautner, G., & Rainer, F. (Eds.) (2017). Handbook of Business Communication. Walter de Gruyter, Inc.
Perry, L., & Miller, T. (2018). Business Communication: Skills and Techniques. ED-Tech Press.
Schwartz, M. S. (2017). Business ethics: an Ethical Decision-making Approach. Wiley.
Scott, C. R., & Lewis, L. (Eds.) (2017). The International Encyclopedia of Organizational Communication. West Sussex, UK: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.