A Precondition for Authentic Communication

The need to learn about organizational culture is a continuous necessity for a communicator

People working with communication must be abreast of the culture(s) in their company. This is one of Nikolaj Stagis’ main points in his book called ’The Authentic Company.’ The background for his statement is that there is a great need for authentic communication in today’s society. This is because many people have become weary of exaggerated advertising and spin.

So, in order for communicators to be able to create authentic communication, Stagis argues that they need to have a thorough understanding of the culture in their company. This is important because it enables communicators to articulate communication that corresponds with the organizational culture. In that way, communication becomes authentic since the company ‘walks the talk,’ so to speak.

In the light of this, the question is: How can communication professionals learn about their company’s culture? I will answer this question by presenting some brief recommendations.

#1: Seek out Fellow Employees

Firstly, communication professionals should actively engage with other employees in the company. This could be done by arranging workshops for employees from different departments. In doing so, the employees would get an opportunity to discuss how things are done in each department. In return, the communicator would get a sense of the core values that exist across the departments. Ultimately, this will draw a picture of the company’s culture.

Conversely, it is not only people from the communication department who should reach out to the rest of the employees in the organization – the other way around could also be beneficial to the communication department. This leads me to my second recommendation:

#2: Encourage Story Sharing

Communication professionals should encourage employees from other departments to bring forward stories about the daily operations in the organization. Such stories are valuable to the communication department considering that they point to the company’s core values.

The act of sharing stories with the communication department should be done voluntarily by the employees. To achieve this, the communicator must firstly explain to the employees why the stories are beneficial to the communication department. Secondly, the communicator must set up incentives for sharing stories, e.g. the possibility of having the stories published in the company’s employee magazine.

#3: Acquire External Assistance

My third and final recommendation is to employ an anthropologist. My girlfriend is an anthropologist, and therefore I hear a lot about the field of anthropology at home. An anthropologist could observe the daily routine in the company, interview employees, and finally report back to the communication department with an account of what constitutes the culture in the organization.

As opposed to my first recommendation, the benefit of this recommendation is that an anthropologist would observe the organizational culture with a fresh set of eyes compared to a person from the communication department. This is because the organization is new to the anthropologist, and thus his or her way of viewing the organizational culture is not influenced by the organizational norms. Consequently, the anthropologist might be able to observe things about the culture that a person from the communication department might fail to notice.

This is my take on what you can do to gain knowledge about the culture in your company. However, only the imagination sets the limits as to the many different ways in which this can be done. So, what is your take?

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