In our previous blog we spoke about the importance of effective employee communication to the success of your business and the fact that poor communication often lies at the root of problems within organisations.
With so much at stake, it can be tempting at times to bury your head in the sand and resolve to communicate less rather than more. But clear, consistent and regular communication can make a big difference to your business. And the good news is that just three things are needed to make your communications a success - thorough planning, careful execution and a large measure of common sense.
Here are some tips to help you get your employee communications right:
Be open and honest
An obvious one, but if your communications aren’t open and honest then your employees will quickly realise that they and you can’t be trusted. As a result, gossip and rumour are likely to fill the credibility gap.
Consider your audience
You may have your own reasons for making changes and while it’s good to communicate these it’s also important to consider your employees’ likely first thought - – “what’s in it for me?”
Good communicators have the ability to put themselves in the shoes of others and to see how the world looks from other peoples’ perspectives. Are you using language they will understand and respond to? Do you know what their concerns are likely to be? What questions will they want answers to? How are they likely to react?
Avoid jargon and pitch your communications to the level of understanding of the people you are communicating to.
Know what you want to achieve
Be crystal clear on the purpose of your communication. Are you merely informing people; passing on some good news or do you want them to take action? At the outset you need to be clear on what you are trying to communicate and what your goals are.
Have a consistent message
Don’t confuse your employees by sending mixed or unclear messages: your credibility will quickly suffer. The resulting confusion and knowledge gaps will rapidly lead to the reappearance of your old enemies – gossip and rumour.
It’s not enough to tell employees what is going to happen and how – they will want and need to know why.
Identify the best mechanisms to use and when
The tools you choose to use will not be the same for all communications nor for all employees. Consider locations, shift patterns, time zones and how you will communicate with those who are absent from the workplace, for example, those on holiday, sick leave or maternity leave.
Are your managers clearly briefed?
Consider how you will prepare your managers : will this be done face to face or electronically? Do they have a comprehensive brief to ensure consistency of message? Do they know how to handle questions they don’t know the answers to? Do they all have the necessary skills to communicate effectively or do you need to organise training for them?
Put feedback opportunities in place
Make sure you put mechanisms in place for people to give feedback or ask further questions. Whether you do this face to face or use the myriad of electronic communications available today, make sure that your system works properly; that those who want a response get one and that all feedback is captured and evaluated.
Know how you will evaluate the success of your communication
Having the ability to evaluate the success or otherwise of your communication is essential for addressing problems and for future improvement.
Blog written by Jill Harris