Finally, intentionality means that talk is purposeful as well as flowing. Groysberg and Slind note that those who speak with intention do so with a sense of where they hope the conversation will lead and what they want to accomplish. In organizations, intentionality is expressed by making sure internal conversations are aligned with operational and competitive goals. In the past, such strategic formulations were designed and disseminated from the top, but Groysberg and Slind argue that to be effective today, agreement must be generated in the talk that circulates throughout the company. This can’t happen unless people in the organization are able to see their enterprise as a whole and understand what colleagues in different units and at different levels are really doing. Conversations that serve intentionality must therefore bring different segments together, giving participants a comprehensive sense of their organization and its place in the larger world.
Talk, Inc. makes a powerful case that effective talk is the primary means of motivating and inspiring loyalty among today’s increasingly social and connected workforce. Knowing what’s going on and feeling that one is part of a larger endeavor is the kind of nonmonetary reward that the new generations of employees in particular are demanding. Talk in all its manifestations — intimate, interactive, inclusive, and intentional — is the cultural instrument required to get people engaged.
All of this year’s best business books on organizational culture present fresh and actionable ways for building stronger and more resilient companies. But they do it without going big. Instead, they zoom in on the day-to-day behaviors, attitudes, and ways of talking and thinking that support growth and transformation — one meeting, one insight, one conversation at a time.
- Sally Helgesen is a contributing editor of strategy+business. She is an author, speaker, and leadership development consultant whose most recent book is The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work (with Julie Johnson; Berrett-Koehler, 2010).