Authentic communication has always been important in business, but it seems to be needed now more than ever before. The rise of authentic communication has been driven by four large trends emerging in the business world.

Battle for trust

The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report revealed that there has been a general decline in trust around the world. In a realm of marketing spin and fake news, we have a workforce and customer base that is more sceptical than we have seen before. Consequently, leaders need to be mindful of this cynicism when they are communicating, especially in times of change.

Constant change

The world is experiencing change at an unprecedented rate. The increase of automation, globalisation of markets and ease of entry for new competitors is seeing organisations with no other choice but to adapt. Some of Australia’s largest organisations, including NAB, ANZ, Telstra and Australia Post, are all going through significant organisational changes. These transformations almost always result in restructures and job losses. Naturally, this creates stressful situations for employees and leaders alike.

Rise of technology

New corporate jargon and acronyms enter the business vocabulary on an ongoing basis. For example, the recent adoption of the word ‘optics’, for ‘how something looks’. With the rise of technology, these new terms are entering our vocabulary at an alarming rate. What’s more, the implementation of the agile methodology in companies has brought with it a whole new language of ‘sprints’, ‘squads’ and ‘scrums’. The end result is that employees are feeling more and more isolated when they do not readily understand these terms.

Evolution of expectations

The Gallup 2017 State of the Global Workforce report showed that 85% of employees worldwide are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. The expectations of employees, especially the younger generations, is changing and businesses need to adapt.

Companies should innovate their processes and structures, alongside leaders who need to adapt their mindset and approach. For today’s workers, a sense of purpose is more important than climbing the corporate ladder. They feel the need to be heard as well as have the opportunity to genuinely contribute.

To combat the effects of these global trends, companies and leaders should embrace authenticity in the workplace. And there are three ways that leaders can step into authentic leadership and real communication.

Purpose or vision

A sense of purpose is important to employees and they want to work for companies and leaders that have a vision. Last year, during Australia’s same sex marriage debate, we witnessed a growing number of CEOs taking a stand on a social issue. For example, Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas, personally donated A$1 million to the ‘Yes’ campaign in support of legalising same-sex marriage. Demonstrating your commitment to a cause can increase employee respect and connection.

Real words not jargon

Corporate jargon has become the default language of business. The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of jargon is, “Special words or expressions used by a profession or group that are difficult for others to understand”.

Using jargon is a major barrier to authentic communication. In an era of low trust, using words that are easily understood is even more critical. A New York University study in 2011, concluded that there was a lower level of trust when vague words were being used as opposed to a higher level when more concrete words were used.

Taking the time

To communicate authentically, leaders need to understand what is going on with their people. They need to proactively spend time with them, asking questions and most importantly listening to them. Senior leaders are paid big money to make big decisions. It seems only logical that in a world of unprecedented change, leaders would take the time to gather views and opinions from all sections of their employees and customers.

As organisations battle with trust, constant changes and workforce expectations, it is crucial that they embrace authentic communication and leadership. Showing purpose, clear language and genuine interest in your employees leads to improved connection, engagement and ultimately better business results.