Driving Engagement Through Recognition and Communication? A Love Story

Let's talk communication: February is about love stories and so much of those can be shared in the workplace. Be reassured: we are not going to talk about the common workplace romance. Instead, let's talk about love stories between an organization and its people. One of them is the story of change for many companies, especially the ones engaged in direct customer experience, brought by digitalization of life - meaning, business and consumer lifestyles -. This unstoppable trend  should boost rather than hinder how  we drive engagement within organizations.
The art of communication lies within the art of making people embrace - love vs. hate
- the new turn
. According to a January 2017 Gallup survey, only 32% employees in the US are engaged, and 13% globally. So, what could be key factors hindering or promoting,  and definitely affecting engagement?

It all comes down to communication. The do's and don'ts of communication in the workplace will define the "love" companies will get from their people. We are talking love of their work, love toward leadership, love for the company, all translated into engagement.

Do We Have a Unique Notion of Communication?


Yes, first and foremost how do you define communication? I have no doubt that all understand that the basic rule of communication is that it requires an exchange between two parties at least. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines communication as "a process by which information is exchanged between individuals". However the communication or exchange is, it does require an exchange: input and output, listening and talking, and maybe pulling and pushing (sic). In any event there should be an exchange. No shutting down. Not a one-way pushing or pulling. Basics aside, what does communication involve?

 Communication, like Love, is NOT meant to:..

  • Flatter the community of people: Your work community, that is, your Human Resources, is made of a mix of talents, individuals, and generations. You cannot win by trying to flatter the community as a whole: it is a community but variations do exist and need to be acknowledged. While everybody is on the same boat, only the boat is the constant invariable, especially in global organizations. Accept and embrace the diversity of personalities, accomplishments, environments, professional motivations and potentials.  In return, the community will bring their riches to the company;
  • Flatter individuals: Most people - at least the ones that you want to be contributors in your organization - value constructive feedback. Be honest with them: coaching and mentoring call for great communication skills.
  • Boost personal ego: Leadership ego? Employee X or Y ego? Forget about ego alltogether. Use communication to build leadership and individuals that form your Human resources. "Errare humanum est": human error happens. It can and needs to be addressed adequately, constructively, not undermined to boost personal ego. This is why prompt and honest feedback is paramount to building professionals.
  • Conduct personal agenda: Let communication be truthful and used for organizational growth. Our touching point here is the world of ethics. There is no need to dramatize human errors in order to to unfairly or hastily weed out some members of the work community. Organizational communication is not to be manipulative. Do not interpret policies and manipulate words or situations to carry- out personal agendas or vendettas. Not true? Authoritarian-type of leadership need not be construed for strong leadership. There is truly a fine line between corrective/punitive discipline and progressive discipline. Fear of retaliation is counterintuitive to engagement efforts.

Successful Communication Involves:

  • Transparency: Is key to a culture of open communication and engagement. It is the foundation of trust between partners and stakeholders. Changes need not only to be timely but also clearly communicated for people to understand and support them. I love the idea of "open houses" and discussion groups; but with communication comes information, education, and training.  This leads us to filters.
  • Filters: Communicate on a need-basis when it comes to business information. It is only logical to safeguard information. Not only it eliminates the clutter of information on individuals' plates, but most importantly it limits the " broadcasting" of private (HIPPA) and sensitive business information. There is a fine line between too much and too little information. Indeed, filtering need not be interpreted as needed "blockage" or "disinformation" or "misinformation", much less as "enhancement" of poor realities or business performance: It is not a "dictatorship". It is a partnership. This is how branding comes to play.
  • Branding: Communication is from the inside-out. The life and beat of the organization as a whole transpire to external stakeholders, candidates and former employees. That implies that internal level and quality of interactions will define the level of customer experience, hence, business success. Unfortunately, when it comes to HR we often associate and apparently limit
    Branding to Talent acquisition and at most include Talent management. But if the Human Resources (the people) are going to define the brand of any given organization, they need to reflect the said organization in truth and "love".  So, training and information cannot be put in the back burner. Information and Communication are at the heart of any organization. That role cannot be limited to conforming to regulatory disclosures. It would be such an underutilization of resources. 

There is so much that can be said and done at the intersection of HR and Communication. Engagement is at the intersection of communication and recognition.  I believe that the better organizations understand that linkage, the better off they will be with regards to its internal and external stakeholders. You want more promoters than distractors in order to generate more business.

En Synthèse.... 

OK. Je suis allée jusqu'à comparer la Communication avec une histoire d'amour parce que c'est le mois de Février, avec la célébration de la St Valentin. Ah! Et dire que je ne me croyais pas créative! .... Enfin, tout de même, en hommage à tous ceux (et à tout ce ) qu'on aime en ce fin de Février... C'est une histoire d'amour parce que cela suppose une interaction entre deux parties: l'organisation et ses interlocuteurs, qui qu'ils soient. Et c'est cet échange constant d' information, de sentiments, d' opinions et messages qui définit la relation entre les parties. Mais en bref, dans toute organisation, la communication, tout comme dans toute relation personnelle, suppose quelques qualités sine qua non: l’honnêteté et la transparence, l'absence de manipulation, des limites (tout n'est pas bon à dire mais se mesure), et une image personnelle/de marque constante et fiable.  Communiquer dans une organisation - quelle qu'elle soit -,  c'est tendre la main et l'oreille aux gens qui sont autour de l'organisation et qui la composent.  C'est aussi sauvegarder la communication pour qu'elle soit effective et efficace. La motivation résulte en grande partie de la qualité de la communication et de son usage parmi les dirigeants.


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