The Trickle-Down Method
Once upon a time the flow of information in organizations followed a fairly predictable course; executives announced a new program, initiative or product and dictated the content to an administrative staffer who passed it on to a corporate communication staffer who fine-tuned the announcement. The memo (remember paper memos?) was typed up and cascaded down via the organizational hierarchy. Then, depending upon the strategic importance, an all-employee meeting might be called after which individual managers followed up and answered questions within their teams and departments.
After digesting the news, most employees simply went back to their jobs and decided that they would worry about the new initiative when it affected the work they needed to complete. “That’s a sales program,” an employee in the Accounting Department would think. “It has nothing to do with me.”
In this scenario both leaders and employees failed to understand that employees, no matter their role, are business partners for the entire enterprise. We wouldn’t withhold critical information from an external business partner, fail to ensure their understanding, or clarify their role in meeting goals yet many time we have done just that with our internal business partners – employees.
We’ve always known that engaging with our external business partners is necessary for success and now – finally – we understand that engaging with our employees is just as important.
Making Communications Employee-Centric
More organizations now understand that internal communication is an integral component for the reinforcement of their organizational culture; when, where and how they communicate with employees supports the organizational values by which they say they live. When company leaders focus on the manner of their internal communication and take steps to do it with intent, their employees/business partners are much better equipped to understand their role in driving strategy and attaining goals.
When defining an internal communication strategy designed to engage employees there are a few key things that will make sure employees are at the center of the process:
Ensure communication is targeted and timely. Focus on providing the right information to the right employees at the right time. Technology platforms can assist in targeting message by location, language, work groups, or other areas.
Promote interaction. To strengthen a culture of transparency and engagement ensure that conversations are two-way and not just top-down. Effective use of social business tools allows dialogue to open up and encourages informed and relevant conversations between leaders and employees and across organizational silos.
Consider format and platforms. Ensure that communication platforms are easy to access and tailored to the internal audience; desktops, tablets, and mobile-enhanced platforms can all be used to further goals of promoting conversation and encouraging feedback.
Measure engagement and interaction. When launching an internal communication strategy the most important step is determining how it aligns with strategy and how success will be defined and measured. There are numerous ways to monitor, measure and track not just consumption of information but also interaction and ultimately engagement.
While leaders may outline strategy, the employees are the ones who execute on the strategic vision or initiatives of the organization. Having genuine, honest, two-way dialogue allows individual employees to truly understand their role in furthering business goals and strategies.
This post originally appeared on Bizzuka’s Big Idea blog. Bizzuka provides custom Web site design, internet marketing, and intranet development services for small and medium sized business throughout the United States. In addition, Bizzuka is developing a syndicated messaging system which allows workforce communications to cut through the noise and deliver information effectively and promptly.