There must be thousands of articles and at least dozens of books that have been written to tell us how to build collaborative and creative working environments. Places where people are excited to work, are doing important work that they’re good at, where we are valued and treated well, where we feel good about both ourselves and the place we work.
If you’re a business owner or running a business, it’s easy to show your employees that you care about them and that your workplace is the place to be , – barista coffee- free fruit- swanky breakout areas-casual dress, gym memberships and so on. These things are nice and if firms can offer them then great, but these won’t make people any more collaborative or creative or indeed happy and engaged.
These nice to haves lay on the edges of what matters and I’d like to draw you back to the things that fundamentally impact people’s workplace performance and of course ultimately the success of your business. My view is that the foundation of great working environments are good relationships. At the core of strong, robust relationships is the ability to communicate with each other in a way that opens a world of possibilities (and it’s free!)
Communicating is like driving- most of us can do it. And like driving some of us don’t do it all that well, especially under pressure. How many times have you walked away from a meeting not sure about what just happened, or maybe you were quite certain about what you were meant to do only to find out later that you’d misunderstood? How often have you not said something to someone because you’re scared of the reaction that it will elicit?
Racing car drivers understand the mechanics of their cars, that’s how they get the best out of them and make adjustments to get better performance. Great communicators understand the mechanics of communication- and just like a high-performance car, there’s a lot under the bonnet. Skilled drivers make for safe roads, skilled communicators open the door for collaborative and creative, safe working environments.
Fortunately for us, decades of research has given us a fantastic understanding of the mechanics of communication. It’s not all about words and how we string them together. Communication is a “whole of person” (I just made that up) experience, and the more of yourself that you artfully bring to it, the more powerful your communication will be.
Understanding the mechanics of communication supports great conversations. The sort of conversations that get problems solved, that maintain and strengthen relationships, and send a message to everyone that ideas and thoughts are welcome.
To build a collaborative and creative work environment look to the quality of your communication, it’s the platform that relationship and organisations are built on.