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After command-and-control, what happens to organizational communication? In line with cultural and technological change (notably the dawn of Web 2.0), corporate communication is becoming more collaborative and connected, like a conversation, with leaders seeking the attention, trust, and input of company stakeholders.

The power to speak freely and a sense of being heard strengthen overall employee engagement.

Unfiltered discussions between stakeholders on public forums are going to continue to take place. Rather than resisting this phenomenon, many companies are empowering employees to speak both inside and outside the organization and, in the process, turning what may have seemed like a loss of control into a method for increasing their effectiveness as leaders.

Three fundamental characteristics of organizational communication:

1. Leading the conversation
By giving others license to speak, leaders relinquish some control. But this does not release them from their responsibility to lead. It is still up to leaders to open the dialogue, define the goals, and guide conversation toward concrete results.

2. Creating conversational intimacy
Switching from one to two-way communication requires high levels of trust and openness between company stakeholders. By putting themselves out there honestly and openly, leaders can “narrow the gaps” between themselves and other stakeholders Video is a great medium for overcoming (many kinds of) divisions.

 

3. Promoting interactivity
The evolution of the company intranet reveals a shift toward greater interactivity. First launched in the mid ‘90s as a shared database, the intranet is now also used by many as an internal news service and, increasingly, enables users to rate, share, and comment on site content.

 

Business testimony
To support open communication, EMC rolled out a 100% open, collaborative social platform in 2005 that today has 40 693 registered company members. The platform enables employees to acquire and send information instantaneously, with the objective of creating a more collaborative and productive work environment.

 

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Do you have conversations with your teams?

Based on Talk, Inc. by Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind, Power Listening by Bernard T. Ferrari and “Why I’m a listener” (McKinsey Quarterly, April 2012) and on separate interviews with Polly Pearson and Jonathan Martin, EMC Corporation, October 2012.
Business Digest nº 231, November 2012

Listen the interview
How Effective Leaders Talk (and Listen)

the authors discuss the writing of the book and its main themes, including the attributes of successful organizational conversation, why it is more important today to have the right kind of conversations today than it was in the past, and the consequences of this leadership communication style for employee engagement.