Regardless of your business size, you have a culture within that business. It may have been created deliberately or as a result of your and your employees’ personalities. It incorporates everything from the way you conduct business to the dress code. Every corporate culture will at one time -- and likely several times -- encounter communication problems, which occur when you or your employees do not adhere to the communication expectations of your culture.
A culture is an accumulation of experiences and values, including communication, expectations and symbols. It is a way of life and can be described as your business’s personality. In business, just as in global cultures, there usually are common denominators. For example, every for-profit business needs to generate revenue by making or providing something that consumers want or need. Businesses have an organizational structure. As employees gain experience in the workforce, they gain a broader understanding of corporate similarities that can help them adjust their communications to each culture.
Communication problems can develop if organizational roles of the business culture are violated or ignored. Some business cultures may have expectations of a communications hierarchy – for example, an understanding of who is allowed to speak to certain employees, such as managers or vice presidents. Recognizing and respecting a person’s place in this hierarchy and acknowledging a “chain of command” for all functions, including communication, can be more important than the information that is actually being communicated.
Seeking change in your business culture can cause communication problems. This can occur with major changes, such as merging with or acquiring another company and the two cultures are different. It also can change when trying to incorporate technology. An older worker who is used to communicating face-to-face or even with the telephone may be reluctant to use Internet video, email or instant messaging. Instilling a culture of working in teams after years of working independently, thus requiring more frequent communication with team members, also can lead to communication problems.
Assimilating into any new culture can be difficult, and it’s no different with business employees. Particularly if your business culture is grossly different than their previous employers, new employees need to be socialized into the culture. A savvy boss or manager can often gauge cultural fit during the interview and hiring process, but you also can minimize communication problems by sharing your business’s history and successes. Detail stories about your accomplishments and customers so that new employees share your vision for success.