25 Mar
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Communication is Not a Four-Letter Word

By in Customer Stories on March 25, 2013


Have you ever wondered why you were last to find out a piece of information? As a result, have you ever felt excluded, unappreciated or undervalued? Or perhaps you’ve been on the other end and failed to communicate properly for fear of alarming people and getting negative feedback? I’ve been at both ends, and I am here to tell you that, though frightening, it is better to over-communicate than under-communicate.

Ask for help

Everyone — and I mean everyone — likes to have his or her opinion heard. Why not tap into that desire? Sure, some of the opinions and feedback might be less than constructive, but there also will be some hidden gems that you would have never considered otherwise. I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of trying to take on too much by myself, and not asking for help from others as much as I should. However, when our company started utilizing Yammer to improve our overall collaboration and engagement (not to mention I was leading the effort), I truly began to recognize the value and power of information sharing and working out loud.

Sharing is caring

We have three different office locations, with developers of different levels and areas of expertise spread across all three. Since we launched our network as the go-to place for collaborating and communicating, the greatest #yamwin (we use this word to refer to business successes facilitated by Yammer) I have seen is when developers post a question to their corresponding group and within minutes, they receive a response. Their colleagues are able to help hammer through the development question much like they would on Stack Overflow – except for this time, all of the questions and answers are retained on our internal network for reference in the future. In the past, developers would have to walk to each other’s desks or search on the Internet for the answer. This method answered their question, but knowledge was forever lost into their browser’s history as soon as they closed the window. With an ESN tool, we are able to create a wiki and revisit that feed whenever needed.

The human side of executive communication

In working with executives, I have found that even though many are open to their employees collaborating and communicating, they are still hesitant to do the same themselves. Perhaps they are afraid that if they show vulnerability, people won’t respect them as much, won’t appear as powerful. The corporate ladder keeps executives safe from judgment, and utilizing a tool like Yammer compromises that safety. What most don’t realize is that open communication actually makes leaders more powerful and influential.

Employees feel like an asset, not an expense line item when they see the human side of their executives; when a member of the C-suite reaches out to a regular employee, this employee feels heard. By commenting and openly discussing something, execs can help their troops feel more bought-in. Even a simple comment or “like” can go a long way – never underestimate the power of a “like”! Not to mention, getting viewpoints and solutions from across the company is a powerful executive decision-making tool. Any time our CEO makes a post or asks for help, he is the most replied to member for that day — he is our leader, and we are his a team. If he has an idea or asks for help, we feel a sense of community by working together to execute on that idea or resolve a challenge.

This sense of community and open communication doesn’t happen overnight. Our network is working every day on improving the level of transparency. Once you embrace the idea that communication is not a four-letter word, I dare you to see how far it can take you. The possibilities are endless and your organization will only benefit as a result.

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