In our previous blog post, we made a case for culture—your company’s collective behaviors and attitudes—and how it can cause your employees to either lean in or check out. If you want to develop a positive organizational culture, you need healthy communication practices. Today, we’ll cover three, and we’ll get to the remaining two in our final blog post of this series.
As Lori Zehr, our Chief of Staff, says, “Relationships aren’t efficient.” Strong, positive, long-lasting connections take time. That’s true inside and outside the office.
One thing many organizations overlook is that communication starts with getting to know who you’re communicating with. Sure, you can have transactional, functional communication with co-workers without knowing anything about each other. But if you want truly productive communication that moves your organization forward, you’re going to have to go deeper. And that takes work.
At Fervor, we used to have a Monday morning status meeting, but Lori flipped it to a “no-status” meeting. Now we spend an hour every Monday morning sharing a work win from last week and what we did over the weekend. After several Mondays, people started to open up and share some real things that were going on in their lives, from family illnesses to relationship challenges. Instead of starting our week asking people, “Hey, did you get that project done for me?” we’re now asking, “What can I do for you to help out?” That’s a big shift in attitude, and one that has helped us communicate with more context and compassion.
Internal Communication Exercise 1:
- List three people in your organization you don’t know well
- Invite them to coffee, lunch, cocktails, or a phone or video chat
- Let them know this is a no-agenda meeting: you just want to get to know them better.
- Get those meetings on the calendar. What gets scheduled, gets done.
Do you know what the number one internal communication tool is in most organizations? We all immediately think it’s email, but it’s not. It’s meetings. In-person or teleconferencing, we communicate most together, in real time.
We spend more hours in meetings than using any other type of communication tool. But if you’ve been around corporate culture for any amount of time, you know that meetings can very quickly go off the rails. In fact, meetings can act as a barometer for company culture as a whole. Do people show up on time? Do participants know why they are there? Do people leave knowing what to do next? If your meetings aren’t working, chances are, your culture isn’t working, either.
At Fervor, we’ve implemented some lessons from Michael Hyatt’s No Fail Meetings (see below) to make sure our meetings are on-point. Any meeting over 30 minutes has to have an agenda, and it has to be sent out the day before the meeting occurs…or else there’s no meeting! Our agendas include the meeting’s purpose and desired results, a program outline of what you’ll discuss/work on in the meeting itself, and time reserved at the end to assign tasks and deadlines.
Does this go for virtual meetings, too? You bet! Intentional meeting practices work whether you are in-person or online. The same rules apply: Want a 30-minute meeting? Create an agenda. Send it out early. If you can’t, then postpone the meeting until you can.
After we started using agendas, our meetings got much more efficient…and shorter. Nobody has to create an agenda for a 15-minute meeting, so we’ve gotten very good at getting what we need to get done in 15 minutes!
Internal Communication Exercise 2:
- Choose one repeating meeting (30 minutes or above) to upgrade with an agenda.
- Create an agenda that includes the meeting’s purpose, desired results and program outline. Reserve time at the end to assign tasks.
- Send the agenda to all participants the day before the meeting.
- Repeat this process for four instances of your repeating meeting in a row.
- Review how the agenda has changed your process and productivity.
Speaking of repeating your new meeting process four times, let’s talk about consistency. We live in an age of the shiny-and-new. It’s very easy to get distracted. I’ll admit, I’m the first to get overly enthusiastic about the newest communication insights, research, and tools.
I’ve learned the hard way that healthy communication is consistent communication. As you’re making changes to improve your internal communication, go slowly and stick with those changes. You can’t see if those changes are working if you’re always changing the changes! Give 90 days to all internal communication improvements to give them enough time to make an impact.
Internal Communication Exercise 3:
- Choose one internal communication change (like having a get-to-know-you chat once a week or implementing meeting agendas).
- Stick with it for 90 days.
- Review what is working and what isn’t.
How’s your culture? Let’s jump on a video chat to talk about how Fervor can help you create more engaged employees and consumers.
Recommended Reading: No Fail Meetings by Michael Hyatt is our go-to book on improving how we communicate through meetings. Give it a read for more details on how to create better agendas and motivate more productive time together.
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