While it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like “location, location, location”, claiming that communication is to company culture what location is to retail isn’t such a stretch in my mind — see if it makes sense to you. Now when I say communication I don’t just mean an organization communicating directives and decisions from the top with the expectation that the team just runs with the decisions. The communication I’m talking about is one that engages its employees in active conversation seeking brainstorming before solution, dialogue before decision, input before buy-in.
One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from a seasoned executive named Peter Schutz who had long runs with Caterpillar and Cummins Engines before becoming the first American to run Porsche in the early to mid ‘80’s. In a key note address I had the good fortune to attend, Schutz shared his leadership philosophy including his view that “the only competitive advantage any company has is to get extraordinary results out of ordinary people”. I loved that line the first time I heard it and I still do today. “Getting extraordinary results out of ordinary people”…try doing that without engaged conversation in today’s world! The spirit of extraordinary results with communication at the core — that’s the kind of culture that attracts and retains great people.
My good friend, Cheryl Masseth, recently shared with me that “communication is critical to building trust, rapport, respect and confidence.” If you are looking for some common ingredients for your recipe for “extraordinary results”, look no further than trust, rapport, respect and confidence… ingredients taken together that create an atmosphere and culture of engaged communication. Interestingly trust, rapport, respect and confidence only really work if they are embraced throughout the organization, top down and bottom up. The engaged atmosphere must permeate the organization like the smell of cinnamon rolls at the mall or popcorn at the theater. Are you hungry yet?
In the work that Leann and I do we often see the power that comes from communicating in a way that truly engages people. A board embraces new visions and values in fulfilling an important mission; a team of people who has worked side by side for years envisions a new order and processes to serve customers even better; a seasoned organization adapts a new management style built around communicating that has never existed in the company before. Communication, better yet engaged conversation, is at the heart of each process. Communication, communication, communication—give it a try. The results just might be extraordinary!