HRPA Reflections: Communication

At the 2016 HRPA Conference and Trade Show, I had the pleasure of hearing Canadian icon Rex Murphy speak about the issues of the day. I went into the keynote with significant doubts about whether I would walk away with anything unbiased and politically correct enough to share online, and after five minutes of Rob Ford jokes my doubts only grew. But amidst the plentiful political jokes and commentary, he arrived at a pivotal takeaway for HR professionals and leaders at any organization –  the importance of communication.

Communication between the upper echelons of the political sphere and the everyday Joe from all classes and walks of life has been the hallmark of democracy. Our whole political process breaks down, Murphy argues, when the people at the top stop talking to the people at the bottom. That’s how we wind up with the likes of Rob Ford and Donald Trump. And the same goes for any business –to keep moving forward and adapting to the changing world, people in leadership positions need to maintain an active dialogue with all members of the organization.

I am fortunate that this is a lesson my employer really takes to heart. Learnography has implemented an innovation challenge to give staff members on all levels of the organization a voice and a platform to share their ideas. The innovations generated from this challenge were plentiful and myriad, from a bike share program to improvisation classes to an office quiet room. And the most incredible thing about this process, for me, was the immediate and invested response from the leadership team. Three of our directors huddled in an office for 20 minutes immediately following the presentations, and then committed to funding not one, but two of the ideas presented.

This outreach, this communication between the upper and lower tiers of the organization, has already yielded positive results. Not just in terms of getting a convection oven for the kitchen – I’m talking about real connection. People feel empowered to speak up and offer suggestions in situations where they otherwise wouldn’t, like staff meetings. Planning committees are forming around initiatives like getting a couch. Our team is invigorated and inspired to contribute in new ways, which has a direct impact on office productivity.

As Rex Murphy said in his keynote, “we can’t afford to be casual about what keeps us together.” This communication is the backbone of any growing, thriving organization, and I think it behooves every HR professional to make it a priority.'

Author: Kate Salmon

Communications specialist and general word nerd from Toronto, Ontario. Upon learning that I could still get a degree in rhetoric in the 21st century, I went to the University of Waterloo to do precisely that. Now I’m continuing my learning journey at Learnography, a non-profit education consulting organization that really practices its principles of continuous development. With a great team of former educators who are dedicated to creating transformative learning experiences, we are changing the face of corporate training.

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