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What is the Communication Climate?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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A communication climate is the invisible concept of how communications are conducted within a workplace environment. Organizational communication can definitely affect employee productivity and retention. The communications environment in any workplace may be mostly effective or it can be mainly ineffective. The success of a communication climate can be assessed in several ways.

One question to ask when evaluating how successful communication is in the workplace is: Do employees have a clear understanding of what is expected of them? Supervisors and managers can check this effectiveness during employee performance reviews. Job performance can be affected by an inadequate understanding of expected details. When managers restate the expectations for the position when giving performance reviews, it can help strengthen clear communication in the workplace.

An open, clear communication climate tends to increase productivity. When employees not only know exactly what is expected of them, but understand that they have the responsibility of meeting those needs, improvement in job performance is likely to be the result. If good job performance is then rewarded favorably, such as through feedback, raises, awards or promotions during scheduled reviews, employees are more likely to keep improving on their productive work behaviors.

Communicating to workers through a system of expectations and rewards helps them “own” the responsibility to take the initiative in their work and workplace behaviors. Taking responsibility and being expected to take the initiative can also help reduce negative attitudes. Negative attitudes such as defensiveness can weaken the communication climate. For instance, an employee unclear on any part of his or her job expectations may respond that he or she wasn't told and that's why the needed work wasn't done. His or her attitude may even affect co-workers, which is likely to only create more negativity in the workplace climate.

The best communication climates foster clarity. A company's values and expectations can be communicated in many ways that work to strengthen communication. Managers can build a better communication climate by monitoring it and modeling clear communications in conversations, meetings and memos. The idea of a win-win situation between employers and employees forms the strong basis of effective communication climates.

Workplace communication workshops and seminars may help foster clearer, more effective communications in a business. Guest speakers on the topic of the workplace communication climate may help inspire employees, including managers, to adopt new, more communicative methods of behavior on the job. By bringing the subject of the communication climate into a particular workplace, the organization is also clearly communicating that the concept is something the company values and expects.

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Discussion Comments
By hangugeo112 — On Dec 07, 2010

My employees know what is expected of them and are well-motivated and happy to do the best they can because they trust and like me. I have found reading and applying various good leadership books to be quite helpful in nurturing a good communication climate in my workplace, and I can say with confidence that I and most of my employees wake up enjoy life and work all the more because of the good idea-friendly workplace environment I have fostered for them.

By GigaGold — On Dec 04, 2010

@TrogJoe19

I have to say that I feel sorry for your employees and doubt that they will be doing their best under this system of fear. While it is necessary to spell out what workplace guidelines are, you are nevertheless overemphasizing the "stick" and therefore creating a communication climate based on fear. Such an environment stifles initiative and teamwork. I have been in such an environment, and it means that the common employee will have few to no friends at work and always be looking to point the finger at someone else when things go wrong. It is a system which I happily broke free of when I quit.

By TrogJoe19 — On Dec 02, 2010

I think that it is more helpful to use a stick rather than a carrot to ensure that everyone keeps busy. For instance, I don't motivate my employees primarily by rewards and initiative (which can lead to rebellion), but by letting them know what the consequences of laziness are. This keeps the communication climate quite clear as far as I can see.

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