Dinesh Divekar
Business Mentor, Consultant And Trainer
Saswatabanerjee
Partner - Risk Management
Raj Kumar Hansdah
Shrm, Od, Hrd, Pms

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Organizational Communication Strategy… make it simple…

Communication is always scored low in any organization. People have different perceptions about communication. Few companies are not open and transparent and less communicative. The culture is closed and everything is confidential and secret in the organization. Assistants, secretaries and cheerleaders are powerful without title. There is lot of scope for ambiguity. The gossiping is common and water cooler discussions are hot. There are another few organizations who are very communicative. They are open and transparent. Everything they do, they communicate. Their intranet is always updated. Top management takes interest in their people. They communicate vision, mission, numbers, projects, programmes and regular updates. Still there is gossiping and water cooler discussions. Employees still think that they are not communicated properly.

What may be the reasons for this? Why always employees see the disconnect about the information companies share? I see the basic fundamental issues and i.e. do your company have the internal communication strategy? Oh, again strategy! You may ask the question, communication should be simple so why to go in strategy, another corporate buzz word? Answer is how you look it. You still can make it simple by using the simple information gathering tool, yes, i.e. 5W & 1H.

You can design your strategy for each communication… before doing any communication just ask following questions…

What you want to communicate?

Why you want to communicate?

Who are the audience in communication? What is the level of people?

Where you want to communicate?

When you want to communicate?

And most importantly How you want to communicate? What is the mode of communication?

Sometimes, I always see people communicating something, but the connection is missing. If you are speaking about numbers, I see, people seating, in the room are blank. They even forget what they heard when they come out of the room. I see the reason behind this. People don’t see, “what is in it for me” factor. This can be avoided, when you are critical about the particular communication you are doing.

Once you do the proper questioning on your communication, go further by asking,

What exactly does this mean to the audience?

How does this relate to the audience (connect) what you are communicating about?

What is the nature of impact you want to see after the communication?

I think sometimes we forget the basics and try to find out the solution from elsewhere by making whole system complex. Less communication and over communication is always bad and may have the adverse impact on the culture and people in the organization. Question is about right communication at right moment at right place for right people.

Are you ready?

You can also read this article on Vinod Bidwaik: Organizational Communication Strategy… make it simple…

Regards,

Vinod Bidwaik
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Dear Mr Vinod Bidwaik,

Following are my observations on the article:

a) While heading of the post is about "Organisational Communication Strategy", the text is more about personal communication. Though you have written about "organisational communication" in the second and third paragraph, in the next paragraph, you have provided solution for personal communication.

b) For communication, you do not require any "strategy" as such. The word "strategy" catches fancy of every management professional. As much humankind has misunderstood "religion" or "god" that much management professionals have misunderstood the concept of 'strategy".

c) Appropriate heading and focus of the article could have been "How to Create Culture of Communication". Yes, culture of communication is important. To do this, one of the means is 5W + 1H

d) At the beginning of your post you have written that " People have different perceptions about communication". In fact perceptions are also based on the communication. Therefore, it is imperative for HR or management to ensure "formal" communication happens as much as possible. Communication is a powerful tool to shape the employees' attitudes.

e) Management actions are powerful means of communication. Actions speak far louder than words. Their actions send a signal to one and all. They send a signal on what they stand for and "over here what is important?" You have not mentioned anything on this. HR has a vital role in ensuring that the management's decisions or actions are not misinterpreted.

f) What is the use of "strategy" or "culture" of communication, if management has a clique around them or they have pull towards one particular department? The undercurrents will always be there.

g) Call it strategy or culture, the real test of communication lies in finding out how much office boy has understood vision and mission statement of the company. Far from office boy, unfortunately, my experience is that managers also do not know much about company's vision and mission. This happens even though they work for the years together in the company. Can there be better failure of communication "strategy" than this?

h) Recently there was news item in the press "NR Narayana Murthy to Infosys' fat cat laggards: Vows action against top-salary drawing execs". Now when person of his stature criticises in public the internal affairs of the company, what kind of "communication strategy' is this? Was his criticism aimed at actual under-performers or those who allowed these under-performers to grow in the company?

Final comments: - My objective was to critically review the article. There is nothing personal as such.

Thanks,

Dinesh V Divekar

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
Dear friends,

Two vital things I missed out in my previous post as far as "Organisational Communication" is concerned. Two major tools of shaping organisation's culture through organisational communication is induction training and standardisation.

Through induction training, a newly joined employee can be communicated the meaning of vision and mission of the company. Second this is about who got rewards and why they got those rewards. Higher the level of induction training, higher is the motivation level.

Standardisation is another way of brining uniformity in communication. Organisation can create standardised forms for communication. Next is about creating templates on various subjects. Third thing is standardise how junior should communicate with seniors, how seniors should communicate with juniors, communication between two managers or senior managers, communication with vendors/service providers/consultants etc. everything can be standardised. The more you standardise the less it is. 5W + 1H can well be embedded in the templates or standardised communication.

If you look at ISO 9000, then you will find that all that it has done is bring standardised practices and also communication. It is because of standardisation, lot of confusion was avoided.

Thanks,

DVD
The requirement, culture and history of each organisation is different

There can not be a "Fits-All" answer to the questions you have raised.

Some companies have started with a cultural seeped in the federal system, autocratic owner driven management that is not answerable to anyone else. These companies will rarely communicate in details. So grapevine is important source of information for the employees. All new employees swiftly adopt this culture and make their own fit into it. But such companies will suffer from a lack of ownership at the lower levels (or even mid level management). The reason - they never felt they own anything and that everything they do is on instruction from the owners.

For such companies to change overnight is not possible or even advisable. The change will happen if the new generation of owners take over, create their own layers and slowly absorb more of the organisation in it. Social Media, Modern communication tools, even services like Whatsapp are helping in that direction. Have you seen the new HR module for SAP ? The collaboration tools actually look like you are on FB !!!

Collaboration is also a word that is rarely spoken of in these organisations. Its not collaboration that the managers are looking for. They are looking for the subordinates to just do their work. They dont expect to share their insights, knowledge on an equal basis. They are looking at the subordinates to follow instructions, get the data (may be analyse and create information) and then they will take it up.

What will happen if such a company suddenly starts to communicate freely ?

Believe me, it will be complete choas :)
An interesting analysis would be on the impact if modern communication strategy is used in induction in a "closed culture" company and the new joinees get an impression that they are entering a modern work culture. Ofcourse, most smart employees would know the companies history. But for many others, it would result in serious heart burn, frustration and an early exit.

I remember a friend who left an mnc at vp level and joined as president in garware group in mid 90s. I was shocked to see him in that company. It was surely a complete mismatch. He claimed that he would manage. And that the company wanted to move to mnc type of working etc. to cut to the chase, he left after a year. Incidentally he joined a new venture of one of the big indian industrialist groups, where he succeeded, but I think it is because being new, the culture was molded by those who joined, which was modern managers.

If you are looking for a success story in change in organisation specially around communication strategy and collaboration, you need to see what Aditya Birla Group did once Kumar Mangala took over. I would say it succeed greatly in some areas (but again, in the older parts of the group, some things went back to old ways).


Dear Saswata,

Thanks for sharing the examples. However, both the examples are of cultural alignment or misalignment and not necessarily of "communication". Why to confuse with "culture" and "communication".

Secondly, both the examples are of senior level. The last example is of MD of the company. If MD dashes some policy or letter who has got guts to defy? Bringing change from the top is always easy.

The discussion originated with difference in understanding between "tools of communication" and "communication strategy". 5H +1H is certainly a tool of communication and it cannot be dismissed as strategy. In fact I would go further and say that communication has got nothing with to do strategy as such. Strategy is choice of direction where communication is ensuring that the decision reaches to the right persons.

Michael Porter in his famous speech on strategy, has described vividly "What is Strategy?" in his just 1:48 minute video. You may click here to refer the video.

Thanks,

DVD
I liked the responses.
Esp. the reference to Mr. Murthy's harsh remarks in public. It sounded more of a vindictive outburst rather than a communication on company's action plans.
I also appreciate the relevant link to the video clip. It is indeed awesome and enlightening at the same time, to watch the Guru of strategic management, in action. The word 'strategy 'is indeed misused to mean any action plan or process initiative.
Warm regards.
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