Written by: Jeri Quinn | Driving Improved Results
When I run a workshop for business leaders, I ask them to score their businesses on a scale of one to ten in three different ways. First, in how good they are at producing their product or service. Most business owners are confident in what they offer to the market place and rate their organizations a nine or ten. Next I ask them to rate the behind-the-scenes processes that are needed to produce a quality offering and keep the business running. This includes things like marketing, sales, accounting, HR, and technology. Most business leaders say about a seven or eight, realizing optimizing all those things hasn’t always been a top priority. Finally, I ask them to rate their organizations on what underlies everything and ensures success: the corporate culture of their business. Corporate culture encompasses things like accountability, morale, innovation, company values, and communication. This is where my clients often start looking sheepish and rate their companies at five or less.
Most leaders understand the importance of a strong corporate culture. However, the concept can be amorphous, confusing, and is hard to quantify. This means many otherwise excellent business leaders don’t put as much energy or investment into developing corporate culture as they do the rest of their business.
A large part of corporate culture is communication. I’ve worked with clients where the culture included an inordinate amount of teasing, sarcasm, one-upmanship, and put downs. Ostensibly these comments were said as humor, but they still hurt, even though the receiver would never let that show. Allowing or encouraging this type of interaction leads to a lack of conversational safety and trust in the workplace. This results in reduced productivity, energy going to self-defense instead of goal accomplishment, lack of creativity, conflict among co-workers, increased turnover and those associated costs, lack of teamwork, reduced customer service and a host of other problems. Culture has a major impact on the bottom line.
What can you do to improve your corporate culture? Start by improving communication within your company. To help my clients improve their professional communication, I provide training in Conversational Intelligence ®. Conversations are the basis of relationships, and relationships are the basis of a corporate culture. Focusing on relationships and the underlying conversations will lead a company to have a more productive and innovative culture.
Conversational Intelligence ® presents frameworks and tools to create better conversations that improve culture and improve a business’ bottom line. It involves building empathy, becoming aware of the impact of your words, listening to connect at a deeper level, asking questions that show real curiosity, understanding that a speaker and listener might have different meanings for the same words, and reframing statements so they can be heard by the listener.
As an example Sue worked in the above organization. She functioned as an inside sales rep. She tolerated the customers and was wary of her co-workers. She was in a group that received training and coaching in Conversational Intelligence ® . As the group listened and asked questions and reframed humor as caring, she relaxed and came to trust her co-workers. She started to like her job, really care about customers and contribute to training others. Her productivity soared, and she impacted the morale of her department.
In short, Conversational Intelligence ® can shape better communication, leading to more trusting relationships and a culture that transforms a lackluster organization to a high performing team. Want to increase your bottom line? Give Conversational Intelligence ® a try.