Communication is more than a “feel good” part of any organization. The business world, the real world, employees’ worlds—all are continuing to change at an accelerated pace, leaving communicators and leaders with the daunting challenge of keeping employees focused, committed and engaged.
Knowing When to Communicate
Establishing a strong system of communication with employees is crucial on several levels, ranging from major company shifts to day-to-day interaction. Here are three common events or situations that often trigger the need for communication:
1. Organizational Changes
It’s important to tell employees what’s going to be different and what they need to do differently as a result of the incoming change(s):
- When leaders need to take specific action to accelerate business results (e.g., top-line growth, operational, profits)
- A change in organizational structure (e.g., merger, acquisition, downsizing or reductions in force, site closure)
- New policies implemented in alignment with local or national public health guidelines, such as masking during the pandemic or vaccine mandates
- Survey results (including customer satisfaction) are not where they need to be
- Setbacks in product/pipeline development or regulatory headwinds
- Need to create and dominate new markets
2. Driving Behaviors and Actions
Internal communication is essential if you need to drive new or different behaviors—or culture change. Employees need to know what’s expected of them and what they need to do differently. This can apply to a specific initiative or project, or to broader behaviors for the organization at large.
Let employees know if the organization or individuals achieve specific milestones or wins that should be recognized. This keeps them interested, motivated and engaged.
Communication Mistakes That Can Shut Employees Down
Communicating proactively helps keep employees informed and engaged. At the same time, there are some common communication mistakes you should be mindful of. Avoiding these will increase the effectiveness of your communications:
- Inconsistent messages
- Talking at employees instead of with them
- “Spinning” messages vs. speaking truthfully (or delaying communication)
- Assuming employees are receiving and understanding the messages you send
- Not making information relevant and relatable
- Using language employees don’t understand
Break Through the Communication Clutter
Communication at its best is about moving people to action.
Each time you prepare to communicate internally, first think about the business outcomes you want to achieve. Then, think about what you want employees to know, feel and do as a result of your communication. This will shape the messages you develop and help you choose the vehicle you use to share those messages. Employees need a chance to grasp an issue or topic—it needs to be on their radar—before they’ll have an emotional response to it (that’s the feel). And when employees feel strongly about a topic, they are much more likely to take action on it (that’s the do).
Without a call to action, it’s just information.
It’s also important to remember that repetition is critical to ensuring your audience received the message and understands what’s expected of them. When employees hear the same message from their supervisor (their preferred source), the CEO, through the company intranet or through the grapevine, they’re more likely to take notice, believe it and, most importantly, act on it.
What opportunities do you see in your organization where additional communication is needed?
See how being more purposeful when choosing communication channels leads to less clutter and more effective communications with employees.
Click below to download your free copy of the eBook—Use the Right Channels to Communicate with Impact: 21 Channel Guide—today.