One of the most powerful ways of creating a truly communicative and engaged culture is to focus on the idea of community. As Canadian management authority Henry Mintzberg reminds us, “Organizations are communities of human beings, not collections of human resources.”
There is a natural tendency for employees to gravitate toward each other and form ties to create a sense of belonging and shared meaning. In many ways, an organization is more like a dynamic ecosystem of communities, rather than a static, hierarchical organizational chart. Activating these communities to help elevate employee communication and engagement is messy, but by doing so it will generate much more practical, sustainable results. The key to achieving this is to adopt an invitation stance, such as inviting employees to round table discussions or coffee chats to contribute ideas, rather than having a traditional command and control, top-down approach.
This can be done by inviting employees to round table discussions or coffee chats to contribute ideas. You can explore options to build existing networks or communities into your employee communications efforts – for example, seeking the involvement of the social committee or tapping into the Manager’s Network. The idea is to think about communicating and engaging with employees in an organic, rather than a rigid, hierarchical fashion, working at the level of the social fabric of the organization. It’s not about the boxes on the org chart – it’s about working in the white spaces between the boxes, the essential connective tissue of the organization.
This transformational approach to communicating and connecting with employees is effective because humans are by nature social beings – we get our sense of meaning and context from the subtle unspoken cues around us. Since peers are particularly trusted sources of information and opinion, thinking creatively about working through informal networks and peer groups can deliver breakthrough results.