Why Communication is Fundamental for Businesses – 4th in a series of distillations from Wavelength’s Behind the Brand Modules
A unique part of Wavelength’s Connect programme takes participants inside a range of organisations Behind the Brand to learn first-hand, warts n’ all, from those that have been there and done it. We have been looking at what they learnt and showing some examples of who shines within Wavelength’s nine fundamental characteristics of high performing organisations. In the fourth part of our Behind the Brand blog series, we are looking at the subject of Communication.
At Wavelength we often see how Communication doesn’t just improve morale and efficiency, it is vital for achieving alignment and driving purpose.
SNS have developed software that analyses every phone conversation between an employee and a customer. Complete with a dashboard that gives live feedback on how well the employee has done in building a relationship. What’s notable is that there are no performance indicators, it’s simply designed to help teams get constructive feedback, understanding what they’ve done well and where they might improve. A system of consistent and ongoing communication with the sole aim to support and develop people.
The BBC displayed exemplary leadership through the formation of BBC North, and this was in no small part driven by relentless communication. As Alice Webb, Director of BBC Children’s and Education, so aptly said: “communicate until you make yourself sick”. She even referenced how the leadership team had sent emails with key data strategically missing for them to track how well they were capturing the attention of the team via the number of queries they received back.
We saw an honesty in communication from John Lewis Partnership when sharing internally news that performance was down on previous years and that bonuses were smaller than expected. Notably, being told that even a small bonus could be offered was met with cheers from staff. They appreciated the openness and viewed this as respectful. It’s a system which runs through the heart of John Lewis and enables their partnership model to thrive.
Effective communication is two way and when The LEGO Company set out to re-connect to its purpose, it was the 2000 LEGO staff members who were asked “what would the world miss if we weren’t here?”. Defining their purpose wasn’t done in Boardroom isolation, it came from the troops. The people that lived and breathed LEGO every day. And this was a huge factor in the brand’s turnaround story.
LEGO also have a ‘ground control team’ in all their offices. They take responsibility for maintaining LEGO’s open and communicative culture and serve as a hub of the organisation. Alongside this they have a ‘core values culture council’ who the management team consult on big decisions.
Their physical space is open and comfortable and designed for connecting people.
LEGO’s office culture embraces the diversity of the entire organisation and offers a work environment that allows employees from very different parts of the organisation to learn from each other and to think and act more holistically – ultimately making better decisions.
The little things support this too. They see getting a coffee as an opportunity for people to meet and chat so, while there’s coffee on all floors, there’s only a barista on one floor. Eating has been banned in meeting rooms to ensure people eat in communal areas.
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group have instilled employees with an extraordinary level of engagement through a feature called ‘line up’ where every hotel and corporate office globally receives 15 minutes of live cascaded information daily. It always includes pertinent information about their own hotel, but also communicates across the organisation more widely – it might contain news of a new hotel opening or an inside track on guests staying within that hotel. And once a week a Wow story of exceptional service is shared. It empowers employees through knowledge they can use for, and share with, their customers.
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