Something I have noticed in the different organizations I have had the pleasure (or in some cases nightmare) of working with are the different communication patterns. This is a topic that I believe sits on the mind of many across many different types of organizations (clubs, associations, committees, businesses, etc.). Just think for a second, how many times have you ever made a comment like “we never know what’s going on” or “you better be careful what you say around here…the walls have ears.” These kinds of statements are precisely the indicators to watch for to signal that there is a major communication problem.
When I say that there is a major communication problem, perhaps a more correct statement would be that there is a major problem with the communication environment. The only way that problems in communication can really get out of hand in the manner that causes the aforementioned statements, is if the people in the environment support an environment that allows it to thrive.
So how do you change the environment, especially if you are not one of the decision-makers? First, a simple discussion with your supervisor, if possible, would be a good start. Clarify your concerns and possible solutions. As with anything, include the benefits to the business, group, employees, members, etc. as well as the issues that the current environment is causing. It’s important to have real examples as much as possible.
The second thing to do is practice what you preach. By simply modeling the behaviors that would create improvement you can infect others 360 degrees and hopefully start an epidemic. What behaviors would be represented here? Not allowing gossip and backbiting to occur. Simply help break that chain of information by not listening to it, or passing it along, no matter how interesting or tempting. Make sure that as much as possible you keep those around you in the loop, and ask for the same in return. This truly should be an expectation. If you find yourself in a situation where people are bypassing each other and getting supervisors involved when not necessary, or you find people attempting to pull “power plays” call it out and make it unacceptable.
It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure that the work environment is a happy healthy place, and that includes in the communication arena.