Great article by Roger D’Aprix entitled “Cultivating a Culture of Open Communication” in a recent edition of Communication World magazine.

The point of the article is that, “Without the conviction than an open communication culture is beneficial and necessary to business success, the effort will likely fail.” As with everything else in business, open communication cultures (OCCs) start at the top.

Lack of organizational boundaries and the need for collaboration and employee engagement to enhance innovation and competitiveness are key drivers for OCCs.

John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, is a big proponent of open communication and communicate regularly with the company’s 73,000 employees. Seventy-five percent of Cisco employees agree that the “Cisco leadership team communicates openly and honestly to employees.”

An OCC is one in which information flows freely and is easily accessible to both insiders and the public at large.

Consistent with the culture and values of the organization, its leadership enables, advocates and provides open access to information in which employees, customers, shareholders and the general public have a legitimate interest.

In his book The Future of Management, Gary Hamel identifies three universal challenges for the 21st century organization:

  1. Building a company capable of continuous, trauma-free renewal in a changing world without precedents.
  2. Making innovation everyone’s job.
  3. Creating a company culture that inspires everyone to give their very best.

The first task for leadership is to rigorously define its own business case for greater openness. Without the conviction that an OCC is beneficial and necessary to business success, the effort will likely fail.

In their 2010 report, Towers Watson found that companies that met their standards for highly effective communication had 47 percent higher total returns to shareholders over the five-year period from mid-2004 to mid-2009.

Here are six other proven performance benefits of an OCC:

  1. A culture of communications, integrity and innovation increases employees’ discretionary effort (source: Corporate Leadership Council).
  2. There is a direct relationship between employee and customer satisfaction (Northwestern University).
  3. Satisfied employees create loyal customers. A five percent increase in customer loyalty yields a 25 to 95% profit increase (Frederick Reichheld in The Loyalty Effect: The Hidden Force Behind Growth, Profits and Lasting Value).
  4. The primary driver of employee satisfaction is effective communication (Northwestern University).
  5. Communicating a clear vision of the future is the number one factor in building employee commitment (Melcrum).
  6. Internal communication is the top factor in determining a CEO’s reputation, which in turn is critical to shareholder value (Burson-Marstellar).

Does your company have an open communication culture? Can it?

Tom Smith

Experienced marketing professional who has worked with more than 120 clients in 18 different vertical industries. ♦ Differentiate products and services by improving UX and delivering memorable CX to create an emotional connection to the brand. ♦ Obtain insights from analytics to solve business problems and drive revenue. ♦ Develop and implement marketing campaigns that double traffic and leads in three months. ♦ Certified Marketing Automation Professional ♦ Certified Voice of the Customer (VOC) Professional