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Why Leaders Must Create Space for Dialogue to Strengthen Culture
Why Leaders Must Create Space for Dialogue to Strengthen Culture
Daniel Forrester & Eliza McDevitt
By Daniel Forrester & Eliza McDevitt
November 15, 2017
Technology’s rapid advancement is making our world simpler, safer, and more efficient.

Technology’s rapid advancement is making our world simpler, safer, and more efficient. Business costs decrease as complex human processes are replaced by automation. But while machines and applications improve our lives they also eliminate opportunities for human-to-human connection. Connection in the form of conversation is needed to establish the shared norms and beliefs of a culture that supports a leader’s strategy. When technology allows organizations to operate without bringing employees together in conversation, a chasm develops in employees’ understanding of their organization’s purpose.

Human connection is critical for an individual’s psychological well-being and job satisfaction. Providing opportunities for connection increases employee satisfaction, well-being, and therefore productivity. Yet in THRUUE’s experience, leaders chronically under-communicate mission, vision, and values at the risk of poor retention, engagement, connection, and lost productivity. Even when leaders communicate well, opportunities for employees to engage in dialogue about their organization’s mission, vision, or values are often few and far between. This limits employees’ ability to connect with one another and to create the shared meaning they need to pursue and achieve organizational goals.

Why are opportunities for true dialogue often missing? Because dialogue and true connection is hard. It requires time, active listening, low self-orientation, and growth. In Eliminating the Human, social scientist and musician David Byrne says, "Human interaction is often perceived, from an engineer’s mindset, as complicated, inefficient, noisy, and slow. Part of making something “frictionless” is getting the human part out of the way." Unsurprisingly, humans take advantage of technology that creates frictionless processes and eliminates the need for complicated interaction.

In organizations, the art of connecting with colleagues is disappearing. A consumer research report conducted by Survata showed, “7 in 10 millennials and the younger Gen Z prefer to communicate digitally - mostly by text message - than in person.” This alarming statistic indicates most young people will not seek out dialogue in the workplace. Leaders must therefore create time and space for dialogue to close the gap between what employees know and believe about the organization’s values, mission, and vision and what leaders intend for employee behavior. Culture requires conversations to flourish.

Dialogue positively impacts productivity and the bottom line in a way machines never will. Organizational success depends on conversations that create cultural significance and federate knowledge and ideas. Leaders need to be wary of defaulting to code to solve problems. Instead, they should elevate dialogue to solve problems and strengthen culture. THRUUE creates intentional moments for dialogue, setting aside time to come together to discuss ideas and ideals. We drive dialogue that is productive and tied to business outcomes. Through facilitated dialogue, our clients gain shared context, connect with colleagues, and find clarity of direction to strengthen their business. Leaders who actively replace lost opportunities for connection with intentional moments for conversations about mission, vision, and values will reap the benefits of shared meaning and a stronger culture that drives bottom line results.

Sources:

(1) Why Smart Machines Will Boost Emotional Intelligence, Interview with Professor Edward Hess, Knowledge@Wharton, Jan 24, 2017

(2) Eliminating the Human, David Byrne, MIT Technology Review, Aug 15, 2017

(3) The digital lives of Millennials and Gen Z, LivePerson, Sept 2017